Harrogate's biggest cinema announces reopening date as next stage of Covid rules roadmap looms
The Odeon cinema chain say it will finally reopen later this month after being closed for most of the last year because of the pandemic and lockdown - and the Harrogate Odeon looks set to be among the venues back in business.
After such as long time away, staff at the Harrogate Odeon are already looking forward to preparing the art deco cinema on East Parade, which has a 910-seat capacity, to welcome back customers from May 17.
The Odeon manager reports lots of people stopping him on the street in recent weeks, asking when the architecturally important Harrpgate Odeon, which was built in 1936, was re-opening.
The imminent arrival of stage three of the Government's roadmap can't come a day too soon for the Odeon as a whole.
Britain's largest cinema chain, it has suffered more than most in the industry in the last 14 months during which time it has been closed for months on end.
The problem has stemmed not only from lockdown rules but also the reluctance of major Hollywood studios to release new blockbuster movies to reduced audiences.
But the major cinema chains, including Cineworld, which has also announced its intention to reopen on May 17, have now struck deals with the big distributors to release forthcoming movies to physical cinemas first before being made available to stream on the likes of Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime.
Among the much-anticipated new films expected to be premiered at the Odeon are the much-delayed Bond film No Time to Die, Marvel's Black Widow, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runawaya and Fast & Furious 9.
The Odeon will also show Oscar-winning films which have been offered at no extra charge on screening services, such as Sound Of Metal (Amazon Prime) and Nomadland (Disney+).
In a national statement today, the Odeon said it would open most of its 120 UK sites with new safety measures in place.
But the Odeon's owners also said it would be returning with a set of precautions in place against Covid.
Reduced capacity to guarantee unoccupied seats between parties to meet social distancing requirements.
Face masks will be complusory and can only be removed in auditoriums when eating or drinking.
Screenings times to be staggered to reduce queues.
Card only payment with a ban on cash transactions.
Pre-booking of cinema seats online advised.
Last December, Odeon's US owner, AMC Entertainment Holdings, was forced to raise £76 million in emergency funds after warning it was running out of cash because of the pandemic.
Harrogate's other cinema, Everyman, a smaller, boutique cinema which prides itself on comfort and its food and drink offer, has already said it will be reopening on May 17.
Its marquee even has the words "may the 17th be with you" writ large on the outside of the building.
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