The long recovery of cinema in Europe

The effects of the pandemic still act on European cinema like a sticky bad dream from which it is difficult to extricate oneself. “It will take time for cinemas to come out of eighteen months of hard crisis”, assures Laura Houlgatte, Director General of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents the national associations of European exhibitors. Despite everything, it remains fairly optimistic about the sector’s ability to rebound. By highlighting two encouraging phenomena: “After the last theatrical closure period, attendance has resumed very strongly due to the presence of American films – they were sorely lacking last year – and highly anticipated national films”, she says. Added to this is the certainty that “The cinemas are safe places, since no contamination has been traced there and the sanitary rules are well applied”.

Today, the majority of cinemas in Europe remain handicapped by the obligation to respect a spectator gauge which, depending on the country, is between 50% and 65%. In France, this restriction was ended on Wednesday June 30. However, the health pass has been in effect there since Wednesday, July 21. This measure, strongly criticized by French operators and distributors for having been implemented too quickly and without consultation, is however already applied without anyone finding fault in ten European countries.

Today, the majority of cinemas in Europe remain handicapped by the obligation to respect a spectator gauge which, depending on the country, is between 50% and 65%.

The first to adopt it, Denmark has just put an end to it due to health improvements, but this sesame remains in force in Greece and Austria – where, as in Italy, a first vaccine injection is sufficient -, in Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia, Romania and even half of the Länder in Germany.

Attendance suffers. “Where the health pass is compulsory since the reopening of the rooms on 1is July, as in Berlin, admissions are down 15% to 20% compared to July 2019 ”, specifies Christian Bräeur, president of the International Confederation of arthouse cinemas, at the head of fifteen cinemas in Berlin. In Dresden, on the other hand, where this document is not necessary, attendance remains equivalent to that of July 2019, he adds.

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