Last week during a nationwide address, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a timeline for re-opening cinemas in Europe’s largest theatrical market. Beginning on May 19th, cinemas will be allowed to resume public screenings with a maximum seating capacity of 35%. Capacity limits will be eased in stages over six weeks until June 30th when theatres will be able to sell tickets up to their full capacity, just in time for the July 6th opening of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and the July 9th global release of Disney’s Black Widow.
European nations have struggled to balance the competing imperatives of assuring public health during the pandemic while maintaining some level of economic activity in the society. Cinemas in France have been shuttered since last October 30th, when the second wave of coronavirus infections was washing over Europe. However, over the past month the number of new infections have come down, the pace of vaccinations has increased, and warmer weather brought with it a return to outdoor lifestyles with better ventilation and lower risk person-to-person transmission of the virus. Exhibitors are optimistic that moviegoing will resume, due in part to the strong pipeline of new releases that studios have withheld during the pandemic.