The news that Cineworld was preparing to close its UK cinemas broke yesterday, casting a shadow over the whole sector.
My colleague Julia Kollewe spoke with cinemagoers arriving at the Vue cinema in Islington for a Sunday treat.
Clemmie Jacques, 39, who came to see Disney’s Pixar animation Onward, with Tim Osman, 33, said this was her fourth trip to the cinema since the pandemic.
“There was so much space. There’s barely anyone in the cinema at the moment and it’s probably safer than going to the pub….
I like going to cinemas and I want to support the film industry. I don’t really drink so it’s a social thing for me to meet mates.”
“It’s a real pity,” Jacques said about Cineworld’s demise.
“I imagine because cinemas are so big, they have massive rent to pay… There’s not a market for big cinemas any more.”
Jacques thinks smaller boutique chains and independent cinemas such as the Everyman chain, which “has sofas and is more of an all-round experience” might fare better.
“It’s better for dates as well,” Osman chipped in.
Rachel and Michael Thorn, with their children Zadie, 6, and Jack, 3, spontaneously decided to go to the Vue cinema in Islington in north London on Sunday, for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak.
“It is a very rainy day, so what do you do?
We are not regular cinema goers.”
Her husband, who was buying tickets for Onward along with popcorn and drinks, said about the Cineworld closures:
“It’s sad news, but we don’t use Cineworld. We go to our local cinema, the Rio.”
India Townsend, a 29-year-old solicitor, had arrived at the Vue cinema to see Tenet. She has been to Vue and the local Odeon several times since the outbreak.
“It’s as safe as going on an aeroplane, with social distancing and masks,” .
Eren Dogan, 21, customer assistant at the Vue, said customers appreciated being able to visit the big screen again.
“Having the cinema back is a bit of normal life in the same way as going to the pub.”
He estimated that 300 to 500 people are now coming to the cinema every day, but noted that “there is limited film availability”.
To combat Covid-19, Vue has introduced hand sanitiser stations, physically distanced seating, staggered film times, extra cleaning and made face masks compulsory for cinema goers and staff. Screens are disinfected after every screening, including arm rests, and staff have been instructed to wash their hands every hour.