Cineplex Is Reopening After Deep Losses During Pandemic

Premila D'Sa
A Cineplex Cinemas movie theatre in Oakville, Ont. The movie chain is gearing up to reopen in July.

If you’ve been fantasizing about sitting in a dark auditorium with a big bag of popcorn and a blockbuster on the big screen, your dreams might soon become reality.

Cineplex Inc., Canada’s largest movie theatre chain, is reopening some of its theatres in July after closing in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“All of our processes, from when a guest even thinks about going to a movie to the moment that they exit, it’s going to be different,” Cineplex spokesperson Sarah Van Lange told HuffPost Canada.

The Canadian entertainment company is reeling from a loss of $178.4 million in the first quarter after having to shut down due to the virus, as well as a failed $2.8-billion dollar takeover deal with U.K.-based chain Cineworld. 

Lange said that the company expects to resume all operations in Canada by Friday in most places except Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.

The entrance of Cineplex VIP Cinemas Don Mills in Toronto. The theatre chain is implementing physical distancing and health measures to reopen during the pandemic.

Moviegoers shouldn’t expect their usual Cineplex experience though — like many other businesses, the theatre chain has had to adapt the experience to meet new health standards and physical distancing precautions.

Buying tickets at a staffed counter is no longer available; online or at automated kiosks are the only ways to purchase tickets now, and every show will require reserved seating. The auditoriums will be at a capacity lowered to 60 to 80 per cent, said Van Lange. Every other row will be closed off and guests will have to sit two metres away from each other.

Shows have been staggered throughout the day so that Cineplex can reduce the number of people in a building at once. Employees at concessions stands will be protected by Plexiglass barriers.

The theatre chain is also mandating that all staff wear masks and gloves, though guests aren’t required to. That is, unless masks are deemed mandatory in their municipality. As Cineplex announced they were opening, Toronto, where the chain originated, mandated that people will be required to wear masks indoors starting July...

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