Movie theaters started to gradually reopen in Italy on Monday, serving up Oscar-winning titles such as “Minari” and “Mank” in a fraction of the country’s venues, just as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.
For the moment, it’s a few mostly arthouse venues in Italy’s biggest cities that are becoming active again, while Italian multiplexes remain closed until mid-May when UCI Cinemas, which is the country’s top exhibitor, has announced they will be back in business.
The cinema re-openings are allowed to go ahead on the basis of pre-ordered ticketing, distanced seating, obligatory mask-wearing inside the venues, and no popcorn.
Italy’s gradual easing of restrictions also sees museums reopening to visitors, with reservations required. Restaurants and bars in most Italian regions are allowed to serve people at outdoor tables for both lunch and dinner, although Italy’s 10 p.m. curfew remains in effect at present, though it’s expected to soon be lifted if all goes well.
The hope is that from today onwards, there will be a “constant, gradual growth in screens reopening,” the president of Italy’s distributors, Luigi Lonigro, who heads RAI Cinema’s 01 Distribuzione outfit, told national news agency ANSA.
Lonigro noted that with the 10 p.m. curfew still in effect, “it’s unthinkable” that multiplexes that cater to younger audiences can reopen. Instead, the idea is to slowly “turn the market’s motor back on, with the hope that this is not a false start,” he said.
Italy, which was the first European country to be massively hit by COVID-19 in 2020, is now among the first to reopen movie theaters, which remain shuttered in nearby France, Germany and the U.K.
Italy’s vaccination program is slowly gaining traction with more than 17.5 million jabs administered so far in a population of roughly 60 million. Infection rates and intensive care admissions are dropping, though the death count is still more than 300 per day and more than 119,000 in total, the second-deadliest pandemic toll in Europe after the U.K.
Among the venues that reopened Monday are Rome’s central Cinema Quattro Fontane – which is playing both Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” and David Fincher’s “Mank,” and also Mexican helmer Michel Franco’s dystopian drama “New Order” and dark Italian comedy “The Predators” by Pietro Castellitto. Milan’s Anteo Palazzo del Cinema and CityLife venues are also currently offering “Mank,” “Minari,” Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Alexander Nanau’s Oscar-nominated doc “Collective” and, starting on April 29, Chloé Zhao triple-Oscar winner “Nomadland,” which will also be released in Italy on Disney Plus on April 30.
The plan for upcoming releases in Italy includes the May 20 launch of new Italian drama “The Bad Poet,” by Gianluca Jodice, about Fascist-era rebel poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, played by Sergio Castellitto, being released by 01 Distribuzione; Disney’s live action “Crudelia,” out on May 28, which will also bow on Disney Plus, just like Disney’s “Black Widow,” out on July 9; Universal’s “Fast & Furious” on July 12; and “The Suicide Squad” from Warner Bros., out on August 5.