Moviegoers in certain parts of Germany who are tired of streaming will soon have a chance to get back to the cinemas. The country’s government will allow theaters to reopen — under certain guidelines — starting May 15, Deadline reported. However, most theaters are staying closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hessen — a state in central Germany — is the first of all regions to reopen their cinemas. Most of the 346 theaters in the region look to stay closed, and those that open will be subjected to strict guidelines regarding seating in addition to other measures aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
So far, two Hessen theaters have announced they’ll be reopening. Frankfurt’s five-screen Astor Film Lounge will be limiting capacity to 100 people per screening. They’ll be showing fairly recent international hits, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Knives Out. German films System Crasher and The Kangaroo Chronicles will also be shown as well as classic selections. The first example of the latter will be Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Guests at the Astor Film Lounge will be required to wear a mask for admittance, but the mask can be taken off upon being seated. Viewers will also have to sit a certain distance from each other in order to prevent infection from spreading. They’ll also be given a complimentary drink, though the bar won’t be open.
Taunus’ Kronberger Lichtspiele is opening as well, but with more restrictions. The theater only has one theater with 181 seats, and capacity will be limited to 60 people. It also seems that only The Kangaroo Chronicles is being screened there at the moment.
While German theaters can reopen now, many of them won’t be doing so until next month at the earliest. For instance, independent theater group Cineplex won’t reopen their theaters until at least June 4. With seating restrictions in place, and a limit to what films can be shown — along with the continued health concerns — theater companies face a myriad of decisions.
The success of these openings may affect how soon other German theaters reopen, in Hessen and beyond. Germany is not the first European country to reopen its movie theaters. In Norway, 15 percent of all theaters have opened up, with more cinemas expected to follow.
Speaking with Deadline earlier this month, Christine Berg — CEO of HDF Kino, the largest theater group in Germany — said many theaters are looking at opening by July.
“We are optimistic that by the time we are able to open the movie theaters, the people will come back. Enjoying a movie in front of a big screen with a perfect sound is incomparable. But there’s no doubt that the current crisis is existential. We need more financial support by the state for every single movie theatre – whether small or big.”