When are UK cinemas reopening? What will they be showing first?

It's been a long wait for movie buffs, but they can head back to the cinema soon.

Group of people in the cinema having fun

There are a great number of things that people have missed about regular life since the coronavirus lockdown came into effect, with trips to the cinema being one of them.

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It’s always a thrill to lose yourself in the escapism that a brilliant film provides, particularly in trying times, so fans will be pleased to here that cinemas will be making a return in the UK next month.

Of course, things won’t be exactly how you remember them and measures will need to be taken to ensure a safe experience for everyone in attendance, but there are plenty of big releases to get excited about.

That includes Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated sci-fi flick Tenet, Disney’s ambitious live-action remake of Mulan and the long-awaited release of creepy X-Men spin-off The New Mutants.

Here’s everything you need to know…

When are cinemas reopening in the UK?

Odeon – Saturday 4th July

Odeon will be leading the reintroduction of cinemas, by opening ten of their venues on Saturday 4th July: Trafford Centre, Luxe Birmingham Broadway Plaza, Luxe Epson, Norwich, Milton Keynes Stadium, Bournemouth BH2, Luxe Lee Valley, Luxe Warrington, Port Solent and Luxe Durham.

A further 88 locations across the country will begin operating between 10th-16th July, with newly implemented safety measures in effect at each one.

A statement on the Odeon website says: “We’ve made lots of changes to bring you a safer cinema experience. From social distancing in our auditoriums and foyers to more frequent and more thorough cleaning routines, we’ve made sure the thrill of the big screen is as safe as possible for you and our teams.”

In England, face masks and coverings will be optional, while branches located in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are awaiting advice from local governments.

Across the UK, seats for each screening will be limited to ensure attendees can maintain distance and it is recommended that all tickets are booked in advance online.

Curzon – from 17th July

Some film buffs will be able to enjoy the Curzon cinema experience from Friday 17th July, when the prestige chain reopens its Canterbury venue.

Curzon Mayfair will return the following week on Friday 24th July, with plans to bring back other locations around the country throughout July and August.

A statement on the Curzon website explains: “The safety measures in place will include clear signage, sanitation stations, allocated seating, social distancing plans, contactless payments, staggered film times and enhanced cleaning. We will be on hand to advise and help customers feel comfortable and secure.”

In the meantime, Curzon’s Home Cinema is streaming acclaimed films now.

Vue – Friday 31st July (phased)

While Vue had initially hoped to reopen its cinemas for the first weekend in July, the earliest date possible in accordance with official government guidance, they have since opted to postpone these plans until the end of the month.

This decision comes in response to recent delays for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (12th August) and Disney’s live-action Mulan (21st August), which had been intended to usher in the return of mass movie-going.

An FAQ on Vue’s website reads: “We have been designing operating procedures that can provide the degree of physical distancing required and allow an experience for you our customers and our teams, that is as safe as possible.”

Cineworld – Friday 31st July

Cineworld is another established chain that has been forced to alter its reopening plan, delaying its grand return date from Friday 10th July until Friday 31st July.

Much like Vue, the decision followed news that the two biggest blockbusters of the summer had been pushed back down the schedule, with Russel Crowe thriller Unhinged now the only major release set for July.

A statement on the Cineworld website says: “We are putting a number of safety measures in place which will allow us to provide a safe environment for our employees and guests. This includes implementing measures such as social distancing, staggered film start and end times, hand sanitising stations, providing staff with Covid-19 specific training and more.”

For more details on Cineworld’s safety measures, visit their website.

What about independent cinemas?

While most of the big cinema chains have a certain level of financial security, things have been much tougher for independent venues that have been entirely without business for many weeks.

Due to the reduced footfall that these smaller cinemas already receive in comparison to the giant multiplexes, many have decided not to reopen their doors until September (at the earliest).

These include: Manchester’s Home, Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema, Ipswich Film Theatre, Bristol’s Watershed, Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema, Newcastle Upon Tyne’s Tyneside Cinema and Oxford’s Ultimate Pic Palace as well as Lexi Cinema and The Rio, both in London.

A handful of independent venues will be braving a return ahead of that time, including Genesis Cinema in Bethnal Green, which plans to reopen on Saturday 4th July with a slate comprised of recent hits and classics.

What safety measures will be in place at cinemas?

The UK Cinema Association recently published a document containing guidance on how best to reopen venues during the pandemic, titled Cinemas: Keeping Workers and Customers Safe during COVID-19.

The advice includes implementing measures to ensure social distancing is possible throughout each location, both in the foyer and the auditoriums themselves.

It also recommends an enhanced cleaning regimen and the addition of antibacterial hand gel stations for customers, as well as plastic screens at contact points, such as the box office and refreshment stand.

The document advises that online booking, contactless payment and e-tickets are widely used, in order to minimise contact between customers and staff.

In addition, film screenings should be scheduled strategically, to allow for deeper cleaning between each showing and to prevent crowds gathering in corridors.

What films will be showing?

Credit: Warner Bros

While some cinemas will be back in action by early to mid-July, the fact is that there are no major movies planned for release until later in the month, so what will be on offer?

A deal has been made between studios and exhibitors to compile a collection of films which will help to reintroduce cinemas into public life, including beloved franchises like Harry Potter and Back to the Future, as well as recent hits like Parasite, Onward and 1917.

The first brand new film to be released in cinemas post-lockdown will be Russel Crowe thriller Unhinged, which hits cinemas on Friday 31st July and will be closely followed by some hotly anticipated blockbusters.

The biggest names in the summer movie line-up are Disney’s live-action Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi flick Tenet, a highly secretive project starring John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman).

But that’s not all that cinemas will have to offer! Here’s the full list of upcoming releases…

Friday 31st July: Unhinged 

Psychological thriller following events after a violent road rage confrontation at a red light, which leads to its unstable perpetrator (Russell Crowe) stalking and tormenting a divorced single mother and her son.

Wednesday 12th August: Tenet

Plot details have been kept top secret for this sci-fi thriller from superstar director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), which stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki.

Wednesday 19th August: Disney’s Mulan

A live-action retelling of the hit Disney movie, which adapts a popular Chinese folktale about a young woman who joins China’s Imperial Army by masquerading as a man.

Friday 21st August: Bill & Ted Face The Music

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return as the comedy duo, who attempt to finally achieve their goal of writing a song that will bring balance to the universe, after a visitor from the future warns them their time is running out…

Friday 28th August: The New Mutants

The long-delayed X-Men spin-off follows a group of young mutants living in a creepy hospital, whose powers begin to manifest in strange and terrifying ways…

How many drive-in cinemas are there in the UK?

Drive-in cinemas have been allowed to reopen in the UK since Monday 15th June – the trouble is, they aren’t very easy to come by on our shores.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of drive-in cinema experiences operating in the UK over the next few months, as well as the selection of classic and recent films each one will be showing.

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If you’re looking for something to watch, check out our TV Guide.