Movie theaters in Norway will reopen on May 7 after being shut down on March 12 when the country went into a partial lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Variety has confirmed.
In line with the policy in Sweden – where cinemas were never obliged to close during the pandemic – the admissions in Norwegian cinemas will initially be limited to 50 people per screen, with a minimum of one meter in between each patron, according to Jakob Berg, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Film Institute.
Exhibitors will have to decide whether or not they want to reopen. “It will depend on how many films they can show at the time of restart. Right now it seems that they will have at least popular films that were screening before the lockdown, like ‘1917’ and ‘Parasite,’ and some Norwegian films,” said Berg. “The second issue will be whether it’s sustainable economically for all cinemas to reopen with 50 people per screen,” he added.
Ivar Halstvedt, who previously ran the SF Kino and Odeon cinema chains in Norway, and has been advising the exhibitors’ body Film & Kino, said that if everything goes well and the virus doesn’t come back, the capacity in theaters will be increased to 200 people per screen starting on June 15.
“Fifty patrons per screen isn’t much but it’s at least a light in a tunnel,” said Halstvedt, who delivered tips on preparing for a reopening for Film & Kino last week. Norway has 211 cinemas and 438 screens.
“It will be a soft opening for now and an opportunity for exhibitors to slowly reconnect with their public after almost two months, and we’re looking to Sweden for advice,” said Halstvedt, who mentioned Peter Fornstam, the CEO of Svenska Bio. Fornstam kept his theaters in Stockholm open through the pandemic, and recently launched the dedicated platform Bio on Demand, which he said has been working well during the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Film Festival in Haugesund will run as planned in August, the national film org confirmed.
Leo Barraclough contributed to this report.