This market insight provides updates on the impact of COVID-19 (as at 20/4/20); discusses potential re-opening dates in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Malaysia.

US movie theatres will be among the first businesses to re-open under strict social distancing protocols according to a set of criteria outlined by federal government, but there is no time frame placed on such a potential re-opening.

US and global circuit AMC plans to raise $500 million in debt to build up sufficient liquidity to keep the business going until November. Fellow circuit Cinemark has given a date of 1 July for re-opening while Regal/Cineworld CEO has also given July as a hoped-for re-opening.

It isn’t clear how the issue of capacity, distancing and enforced limited attendance levels will be incorporated into the daily lives of an open cinema but the experience will be different for a few months at least.

One of the consistent messages coming out of countries is that there is no easy way back to normal, and certainly not without a vaccine. This will impact some industries more than others. The challenge for cinema is to make the cinema a safe environment and convince people and authorities of this fact, while also having enough people in the auditorium to make opening viable and to encourage distributors to release attractive product.

An online survey in France (undertaken by Vertigo Research) showed that 52% of French people want to return to the cinema once the lockdown is lifted. 70% of the respondents are frequent cinemagoers. The desire to go to the cinema was particularly strong amongst the 15-24 age group (55.6%) and the over 50s (57.9%).

The Austrian government has said that cinemas will remain closed until the end of August, although museums and libraries will open in mid-May.

In Switzerland, the government has allowed entertainment and leisure venues to open from 8th June 2020 although it is unclear if cinemas are part of this. This specifically includes higher-education establishments, museums, zoos and libraries while prohibitions on gatherings of more than five people remain in place suggesting that cinemas are not included.

In Germany, the government has eased some restrictions on smaller shops but has stated that large public gatherings, including cinemas, will remain closed until the 31 August.

In Denmark, the government has extended a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people until 10th May 2020 and has said that churches, cinemas and shopping centres would remain closed.

The Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) announced today that cinemas in Malaysia will continue to be closed until the end of the month.

The Slovak Film Institute’s Kino Lumiere has begun online screenings of films, for a EUR2.50 price, Screenings are limited to a few films every week, one per evening and beginning at a set time, unlike a VOD service.