Brussels Attacks: Most Movie Theaters Reopen as Country Stands Tall

Brussels Terror Attacks
AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

PARIS — A day after the terror attack that shook Brussels, most movie theaters have reopened in the capital of Belgium apart from Kinepolis, the country’s biggest cinema chain.

Although the city is not on lockdown as Paris was back in November following the attacks in France, Belgium has been placed under maximum security alert. Special forces and police agents have been widely deployed across Brussels in public spaces, notably in the subway, train stations and movie theaters, as well as schools.

“While people in Brussels were advised to remain inside until 4 p.m. yesterday, such advice has not been given today,” said Jan Runge, CEO of UNIC, the European exhibitors’ body.

“Cinemas in Brussels’ city center — after voluntarily closing yesterday — have decided to open today, and events programmed for this evening have not been canceled, as opposed to those in the morning, which were canceled yesterday already,” added Runge.

Meanwhile, Kinepolis decided to remain closed again today in both Brussels and Anvers, after assessing security threats and consulting the crisis team put in place by local authorities.

Kinepolis has 27 screens in Brussels and 24 screens in Anvers. The multiplex chain was due to show “Batman vs. Superman,” which opens Wednesday in Belgium.

Kinepolis’ management will be meeting this evening to decide on whether to reopen tomorrow, per the chain’s spokesperson.

Production companies in Brussels are also working as usual, although certain shoots taking place in the city have been delayed or canceled. Dany Boon’s upcoming movie, “Raid Dingue,” an action comedy about France’s anti-terrorism squad, was scheduled to shoot at Brussels airport in the coming days. The one-day filming at the airport was canceled due to the attacks, said Sylvie van Ruymbeke, production assistant at Brussels-based shingle Artemis.

The producers are now looking to relocate that airport shoot in another city. The remainder of the movie’s lensing will take place in a Brussels studio and in France. The comedy, which Pathe co-produces and sells, stars Boon as a cop working for France’s anti-gang squad whose mission is to fight violent crimes and terrorism.

Belgians, like Parisians, are determined to go about their daily business. “I think you’ll see a very resilient city, with people returning to their everyday life very quickly,” pointed out Runge.

Meanwhile, the Brussels Intl. Fantastic Film Festival, one of Europe’s key genre pic meets and the biggest upcoming industry event in Belgium, will go ahead, launching on Tuesday.

The festival has received multiple expressions of support, tweets and emails, including from past guests such as Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn, director of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” as well as messages from fellow fantastic fest executives.

“We have had a lot of support,” festival staffer Chris Orgelt told Variety. “People are coming together. There are messages of support in all kinds of languages on the sidewalks and flowers.”

He added: “Reality is more horrible than anything we could ever screen at the festival. But we have no choice but to carry on. I think the festival can be part of the healing process. A festival is a community experience bringing together people from all walks of life, and just to be together is important. Sometimes just being together is more important than the movies and all the events.”