UK cinemas could reopen by mid-July, says Vue boss

UK cinemas could reopen as early as mid-July in time for the launch of the latest Christopher Nolan film, the boss of Vue has said.

Tim Richards, chief executive of the Vue Cinemas chain, said he is “hopeful” that cinemas can be open in time for the release date of Nolan’s new film, Tenet, on July 17.

He told the BBC that the company is working with the Government on ways the industry can operate while ensuring social distancing.

“What we are trying to do is work with the Government to demonstrate that we are not like sporting fixtures or music concerts,” Mr Richards said.

“We can actually control how many people go into our cinema at any given time. We have the ability to schedule our films separately and we have the ability to control entrances and exits for customers.

“We have operating systems in place today which allow social distancing and cocooning within the cinema for couples, individuals or families who want to watch a movie.”

The chain said it has learned significantly from the impact of the Sars outbreak on its Taiwanese operations between 2002 and 2004.

Mr Richards said the chain is prepared for “every possible eventuality, ranging from social distancing to restricted access”.

He said there will be a “demand like we’ve never seen before” for cinemas when they are reopened, highlighting the releases of Tenet, Minions, Mulan and the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, later this year.

Last week, Odeon-owner AMC Cinemas said it will refuse to screen any Universal Pictures films in a row over the company’s decision to release Trolls World Tour on streaming services after its theatrical release was disrupted by the pandemic.

However, the Vue boss said he had a “lot of sympathy” for the film studio, but stressed he did not believe this was a turning point towards more on-demand releases.

Mr Richards said: “We are not seeing any change – in fact we are seeing the opposite.

“We are seeing an incredible amount of support from all the studios. They want their movies released on big screens and our customers want to see those movies on big screens.”