European cinema giant Vue has pushed back the reopening of its U.K. cinemas by three weeks to July 31.
Vue CEO Tim Richards confirmed to Variety that the chain, which was originally set to reopen from July 10, will instead begin a phased reopening of its venues from July 31, joining rival cinema operator Cineworld in shifting dates due to the delayed releases of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Niki Caro’s “Mulan.”
“Having taken comprehensive steps to safeguard our staff and customers, Vue is ready to welcome back customers to its U.K. cinemas to enjoy the escapism of the big screen experience. We know from successfully re-opening cinemas across Europe — including some 70 sites in Germany, Denmark, Holland, Lithuania, Poland and Italy — that audiences after lockdown are itching to enjoy the big screen experience again, with the added reassurance of rigorous new operating protocols and appropriate physical distancing,” said Richards.
“We also want to offer a great choice of content for the big screen experience and, despite having many classic films and recent releases lined up to whet the appetite of cinema audiences this summer, the worldwide rescheduling of the release dates of ‘Mulan’ and ‘Tenet’ has prompted us to review our opening dates,” said the executive.
Vue will open with a number of classic films, including the 10th anniversary edition of Nolan’s “Inception” and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” as well as event cinema specials such as National Theatre Live’s critically acclaimed “Fleabag.” The business will come back at 80% capacity, with roughly 72 of its 91 U.K. venues reopening.
“Cinema has gone from strength to strength in recent years and after a record start to 2020 we are committed to bringing back the cinema experience as quickly and safely as possible,” said Richards.
The decision to delay hasn’t been an easy one for Vue, which operates close to 2,000 screens across 10 countries including the U.K., Italy, Germany, Denmark and Taiwan. It’s understood that a number of considerations needed to be made for the U.K., such as whether films like Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” would move from its July 17 release date — which it ultimately did on Tuesday to July 31 — as well as the next steps for “Tenet,” which could still move dates for a third time if the situation in the U.S. doesn’t soon improve.
With Vue and Cineworld both reopening on July 31, Odeon is the only multiplex to have maintained its original date and will begin a phased reopening from Saturday — when U.K. cinemas are officially allowed to reopen. This is in contrast to Odeon’s parent group AMC Theatres, which pushed back its reopening plans Stateside by two weeks due to coronavirus spikes and the “Tenet” delay. AMC now plans to open 450 of its more than 600 theaters on July 30, and hopes to be fully operational by early August.
While 450 films are being made available to U.K. exhibitors around reopening, including “1917,” “Trolls World Tour” and a handful of new local films, the primary draw for audiences will be fresh releases, the biggest of which are still over a month away, with “Tenet” set for Aug. 12 and “Mulan” on Aug. 21.