Why cuddling with your partner at the movies will probably be a thing of the past
With new physical distancing measures, movie-goers will probably be separated from their partners by at least 1 meter when cinemas are given the green light to reopen.
This is just one of the measures cinemas in South Africa are taking to ensure the safety of its customers.
Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro say they’ve instituted precautionary measures of physical distancing and increased sanitising regimes to ensure the safety of staff and customers once they are able to open.
Ster Kinekor head of marketing Lynne Wylie said that internationally, most cinema chains had adopted the one-seat-open-one-seat- booked approach to ensure physical distancing.
The forced closure of cinemas across the world due to the global Covid-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on the cinema industry. And Ster Kinekor has suffered greatly.
“As the world started to feel the effects of Covid-19, more and more of the major blockbuster movie release dates started moving out, which has had a knock-on effect on our revenue projections,” said Wylie.
However, with the reopening of several cinema houses across the world, Wiley is optimistic that the government will soon give the go-ahead to reopen in South Africa.
“Most international cinema markets are starting to reopen now, including Covid-19 hot spots like the UK, Italy and the US.
“Hollywood studios have more or less locked down the blockbuster schedule, and Chris Nolan’s highly anticipated new film, Tenet, is slated for release internationally on July 17 in cinemas.
“The following week, Disney is releasing Mulan and a couple of weeks later, Warner Bros is releasing Wonder Woman 1984.
“We remain optimistic that we will be allowed to resume trading with the appropriate health and safety measures in place, and look forward to bringing these blockbusters to our local audiences.”
Wiley said release dates for new movies in South Africa had been tentatively scheduled while the industry waited for an operational date.
“The bigger titles that would have been released in the March to June window have moved their release dates to later this year.
“Universal’s No Time to Die (the new Bond film), Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984, Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick will all be hitting the big screen later this year.”
Wylie said the pandemic could forever change the way the cinema industry operated.
“If government regulations stipulate that there can be no gathering of more than 50 people, this will definitely have an impact on the industry. However, there is an incredible line-up of content starting from July this year.
“We believe inemas are uniquely positioned to adapt to Covid-19 as our industry is geared for the management and flow of cinema-goers - we can stipulate seating, manage social distancing, both in auditoria as well as in foyers, enhance the cleaning protocols that we’ve had in place for many years and via our website, mobisite and app.
"We already have the technology in place to ensure that no transactions need be managed in a cinema complex.”
Nu Metro says it is also ready to reopen and has been hard at work implementing safety precautionary measures.
Spokesperson Walter Gelderblom said: “We expect the same measures to be implemented once cinemas are allowed to reopen.
“Unconfirmed speculation based on draft proposals predict that cinemas (along with theatres, sit-down restaurants, gyms and so on) would only be able to open under lockdown level 2 or even 1.”
Gelderblom said Nu Metro had moved swiftly to ensure it implemented the appropriate protocols and measures.
“We are encouraging social distancing by introducing at least 1m of distance between booked seats.
"This has been introduced on an automated system, where customers are automatically separated by two ‘buffer’ seats on either side of their selection.
“These buffer seats disappear, and are then unavailable for other guests to purchase. In this way, our cinema capacity is also capped at below 100 visitors, in compliance with the recommended specifications.”
Customers will also have access to hand sanitiser and will be encouraged to sanitise regularly.
“We have placed sanitisers at cinema access points and 70 to 80% of all other areas in each of our complexes nationwide.
“We are sanitising seat armrests, cup holders, and tables before every show as well as disinfecting high-touch point areas such as kiosks, self-service terminals, serving counters, door handles, rails, benches, booths and bathroom areas.
“Door handles, ticket counters as well as service counters are being disinfected every 30 minutes during business hours.”
Seasoning shakers/dispensers have also been replaced by sealed, disposable sachets, said Gelderblom.
“In addition we are closely monitoring daily updates and recommendations from the World Health Organisation and South Africa’s Department of Health.”