The entire Cineplex cinema chain is officially reopening across Canada.
In a press release, the exhibitor announced that all 164 of its theatres—including its 22 VIP Cinemas—will be up and running as of Friday (August 21), totalling 1,687 screens.
In the release, Cineplex stressed it has “implemented best practices and learnings from global counterparts,, building on the existing protocols put in place when the chain reopened its theatres in Alberta in late June.
Reserved seating will ensure proper physical distancing in every auditorium, with capacity still capped at 50 people per screen. (Maximum occupancy for VIP rooms will be calculated to accommodate the smaller size of each auditorium and the greater space taken up by the individual seats.)
Contactless payments will be encouraged to limit physical interaction at ticket and concession counters, and snack bar operations will likely still be confined to “core concessions” like popcorn, soft drinks, hot dogs, and nachos.
Personal protective equipment will be available to guests as well as employees, and the wearing of masks in indoor spaces will be enforced where mandated—though it is apparently okay to take your mask off while seated when eating or drinking, under Ontario’s dine-in protocols.
“We’re hopeful,” Cineplex executive director of communications Sarah Van Lange said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep everybody safe.”
The reopening comes just days before the theatrical release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which was expected to be one of the highest-grossing films of the summer due to its high-ticket 70mm and IMAX engagements. While Warner Bros. has yet to announce a U.S. release strategy, the film opens in Canada—and the rest of the world—next week.
Also slated to open next week are Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History Of David Copperfield and the long-delayed superhero film The New Mutants. Tickets for all three features are on sale now at Cineplex.com.
Van Lange acknowledges that the reopening is contingent on Canada’s COVID-19 numbers remaining low, and audience members observing safety protocols for their own benefit as well as everyone else’s. And should the pandemic take a turn for the worse, Cineplex is prepared to react swiftly.
“Our plans have been built to be nimble and flexible,” she said, “and if we need to shut down [again], we will.”