Singaporean

COVID-19: What Will Going To The Movies Look Like When Theatres Finally Reopen In S'pore?

As the government gradually eases the circuit breaker measures, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that Singaporeans would need to get used to a “new normal”, as returning to the previous state of affairs is not possible.

After living in ‘lockdown’ and being confined to our own homes for about two months now, many of us crave to resume our social lives.

We’ve already established that life after COVID-19 will look very different, and even a simple activity like going to the movies will serve as a whole new experience.

So what will going to the movies look like post-circuit breaker?

1. Temperature Checks, Wearing Of Masks

When movie theatres reopen, health-monitoring measures like temperature checks have to be in place.

Patrons with temperatures of 37.5°C or higher will be turned away — this is one simple measure that cinemas have to implement for moviegoers to feel and be safe.

The authorities have established that the wearing of masks will be made mandatory in the near-term, at least until Phase 2 of circuit breaker reopening.

When movie theatres reopen, it is likely that moviegoers will also have to wear masks throughout the movie duration.

movie popcorn
Image Credit: Bloomberg

However, some might argue: “How do I wear a mask and eat popcorn at the same time?”

To that, it is possible that cinemas might temporarily suspend the sale of movie bites and drinks during the initial phase of reopening.

2. Single Seats

With social distancing rules in place, airlines will be eliminating middle seats and there will be empty seats between each desk in the workplace.

Image Credit: Golden Village

The same rule will probably apply for movie theatres. Even before the circuit breaker started, one of Singapore’s major cinema operators Golden Village lifted its “no single seat gap policy” as part of a COVID-19 safety precaution.

With a strong likelihood that cinemas will impose single-seat purchase, what this means is that you can no longer opt for couple seats or hoard an entire row with your friends.

The problem however is that, having that seat gap in between you and your movie partner will tend to make you feel like you’re watching the movie ‘alone’.

3. More Expensive Tickets

Image Credit: @dextergch93 via Carousell

Following the social distancing rule, the single-seat purchase will reduce the cinema’s capacity by 50 per cent. As they will be selling less seats, it is very likely that they will increase the prices of their movie tickets to recoup their losses.

However, it is possible that prices would dip for a while in the near-term.

As watching movies is typically seen as a social activity, the social distancing rule might deter people from heading to the cinemas.

Moreover, viewer habits have changed massively during this circuit breaker period as many turn to streaming online movies as an alternative.

With these two reasons, there’s a chance that cinemas will lower the ticket prices or offer promotions to lure customers to return to the silver screen.

4. No New Movie Titles

Image Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

As studios continue to push back their major releases, it is likely that there will be a lack of new movies available to theatres.

Hollywood studios won’t release their big films until the largest domestic markets L.A. and New York, are back in business.

The backlog of delayed movies though, will create its own challenges as studios try to shuffle their release schedules without cannibalising one another.

Multiple highly anticipated movies, such as Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” have been pushed back into 2022. Sony’s upcoming “Venom” sequel was delayed until June 2021 to take over the vacated slot of Warner Bros.’ “The Batman.”

During the first couple of weeks, cinemas will probably focus on playing feel-good movies, like animated films, family classics and lighter action flicks (think the “Fast & Furious” and “Harry Potter” franchises).

5. Fewer Showtimes

Image Credit: The Irish Times

In light of COVID-19, movie theatres would have to ramp up its cleaning and disinfection efforts when they reopen.

Workers have to be trained in strict sanitary standards as theatres have to be thoroughly cleaned between screenings, which could cut down on the number of showtimes.

Moreover, with reduced seat capacity due to social-distancing rules, fewer showtimes would mean that it would be harder for moviegoers to secure ticket(s).

On the flipside, fewer showtimes means cinema operators have a better chance at filling up their theatres.

Movie Theatres Might Reopen “Within Phase 2”

Minister Lawrence Wong recently announced that Singapore might move to Phase 2 of circuit breaker reopening by end-June.

It will all depend on the number of COVID-19 transmissions in the community in the first two weeks of June, he added.

In Phase 2, retail shops, consumer services and sports facilities such as stadiums and swimming pools will be allowed to reopen. 

People would be able to dine in at food outlets and social gatherings will also be allowed, but they are both subject to a maximum of five people. 

As for activities that involve large groups of people gathering in enclosed spaces like movie theatres, Mr Wong said that the Government will “take a more cautious approach” on when they can restart operations.

The authorities will begin discussions with businesses in this category to ensure that they have the safeguards in place that would allow them to operate again. 

They may not reopen at the beginning of Phase 2 but they could still open up later “but still within Phase 2”, said Mr Wong. 

He declined to commit to an exact date, cautioning that discussions with these businesses could “stretch on for a while”. 

Featured Image Credit: Tyrone Siu / Reuters

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