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Taxi Driver movie theater scene

When can we go back to the movie theaters? Not necessarily when “will” you go back. That answer seems to be different for each individual. But when will we be allowed to go back, and when can theaters open in a safe environment for all their patrons? It’s a question that is swirling around the film industry as we start to inch back to a new normal, and now the UK has circled a tentative date for movie theaters to reopen: July 4.

According to a new report filed to Deadline, the British government released its latest recovery strategy for the nation, and in that report, cinemas have been told that they likely can re-open for business on July 4. However, the report also warns that the date is contingent on several factors, including (and perhaps most importantly) a reduction in the number of infections.

UKCA chief Phil Clapp, whose organization represents 90 percent of the cinemas in the UK, said in a statement:

We have made clear to the UK Government – and the devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – that, on the basis of our understanding of the safeguards that will need to be in place before cinemas can safely open, most venues will be ready to do so by the end of June. Today’s suggestion that this might be considered around 4 July is therefore welcome. But we recognise that there are a host of wider public health considerations which mean that that may not be possible, and we will of course respond accordingly. Whenever cinemas are able once again to re-open, it is clear that all venues will need continued Government support until such time as business returns to something approaching normal levels of activity.

Here in the States, we’re paying attention to any sort of progress that is made with regards to the safe re-opening of movie theaters. All eyes are on the major chains, the AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas of the world, to potentially lead the charge and blaze a trail to show theaters how to reopen in these uncertain times. But the most recent indication that they gave the trades was when AMC told The Hollywood Reporter that they’re still looking at Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Niki Caro’s Mulan as the late July releases that could coax large(ish) crowds back to multiplexes.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet

What these reports suggested is that theaters would open a few weeks ahead of, say, Tenet’s July 17 release. They would program retro films, allowing theaters to figure out how they are going to operate in the age of social distancing. This would allow them to be fully functional when the major, new releases are ready to screen.

All of this depends on the health care statistics as we get closer to these dates. But it’s encouraging seeing a plan in place, and now we’ll wait to see if the U.S. follows the path being paid down by the UK as the world starts to inch its way back to new realms of normalcy.

If movie theaters were open on July 4, would you go?
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