“July Might Be Realistic” For Cinemas To Reopen, Says Germany’s Biggest Theater Association

EXCLUSIVE: HDF Kino, Germany’s largest theater organization, has predicted that German cinemas may be able to reopen in July.

Christine Berg, HDF CEO told us that a date for reopening in Germany – still a global top ten box office market – “remains unclear, but we think July might be realistic.”

HDF Kino estimates that the lockdown has cost German exhibitors in the region of €186M.

While she expressed confidence that the sector can bounce back, Berg admitted exhibitors face a fight for survival: “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.”

The advocacy organization, which has 620 members who account for more than 3,200 cinema screens across Germany, recently outlined measures that would be needed for cinemas to reopen.

Berg told us that “The most important point [in its re-opening plan submitted to government] will be to secure the 1.5 meter distance rule” in cinemas. “We have no idea how long all those measures might last, but the movie theaters will do anything to secure those standards as long as it is necessary,” she said.

Berg claimed she wasn’t worried about a lack of product in cinemas over the summer but admitted that exhibitors face an existential challenge as a result of the pandemic: “We are in close contact with the distributors and take a close look to the U.S. market. This is not a matter of concern at the moment.”

Germany has been one of Europe’s most successful countries at tackling the pandemic. The country began relaxing restrictions on 20 April to allow small businesses to open as the virus fell. However, rate of infections then grew. Despite that, further easing is expected in coming weeks. In the meantime, the country has seen a spike in drive-in cinema attendance.

European markets are starting to reveal their plans for reopening cinemas. Czech Republic will reopen cinemas next week with social distancing measures in place. Vue in the UK has said it is hopeful its cinemas can reopen in July. Euro cinema group UNIC has also noted a July opening as an ambition. However, operators in France have expressed scepticism about a July re-start. Ireland today announced that its theaters will reopen in August.

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