Reopening Cinemas
The Independent Cinema Office publish sector survey findings

Survey finds that 41% of independent exhibitors will not be able to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

Earlier this month, we called on independent exhibitors in the North to contribute to the Independent Cinema Office’s survey on reopening cinemas. Conversations about reopening venues have intensified recently following the government’s publication of their Covid-19 recovery strategy, which suggested the possibility of reopening some leisure facilities, like cinemas, from 4 July.

The results from this sector survey, however, show that a significant number of independent exhibitors do not think they could reopen with social distancing measures in place. In turn, those that could reopen raised concerns over whether or not they should, and queried how they might go about this process practically and safely. We've highlighted some of the key points from the survey below - you can download a fuller summary report via the Independent Cinema Office.

Read the survey report

Almost 500 survey respondents, representing a range of organisations across the independent exhibition sector, shared their thoughts on the process of reopening venues. 41% said they will not be able to reopen with social distancing measures in place. The main limiting factors identified by organisations in this situation were a reduction in income related to lower seat capacities and the physical limitations of their buildings.

While 59% of respondents felt they could reopen with social distancing measures in place, they reported that the effects of doing so would be severe. Most venues felt they could survive for a maximum of three months with the increased health and safety costs and loss of revenue that social distancing measures would entail.

Key concerns felt across the sector included the practicalities of reopening with social distancing measures in place and a lack of audience confidence. Testimonials quoted in the survey report also reinforce the role cinemas play as community hubs that provide a safe and welcoming environment for staff and audience alike. Any strategy for reopening venues will need to reflect the expected level of customer and staff experience that make these organisations successful.

The survey results also indicate which support measures exhibitors would find most useful at this challenging time. Together with the Independent Cinema Office and our colleagues across the BFI Film Audience Network, we'll use these findings to advocate for a reopening strategy that works for the independent sector. Our thanks to all of our Members who contributed – we’ll continue to discuss resilience planning and reopening strategies with them and exhibitors throughout the North in the coming weeks.

Further reading

The Independent Cinema Office's survey is one of many data gathering exercises that have taken place in recent weeks. We've put together a further reading article and picked out a few key reports to help exhibitors find the information they need at this challenging time.

Our selections highlight new work from cinema consultant Jonny Tull, film data researcher Stephen Follows and cultural sector consultancy Indigo-Ltd. In their studies, you'll find coverage of a range of pressing issues - including cinemas' reopening strategies, audiences' concerns about returning to venues and the future of the theatrical window in a digitally disrupted industry.

See our further reading suggestions

If you'd like to discuss the survey findings with a member of our team, get in touch via email: