A plea to support UK cinemas (from someone who works for one)

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The words of one UK cinema employee on the problems currently facing the industry, with a plea for support and help as well.

This article is a simple but personal appeal from me, as someone who works in a UK cinema, as well as some info.

Please go to the cinema. Whether it’s the Vue I work at on Rhyl Promenade, the brilliant Scala Cinema in Prestatyn, Theatr Colwyn in Colwyn Bay, Cineworld at Llandudno Junction, or wherever is closest to you, please go to the cinema.

Our film industry is suffering, as so many industries are, from the effects of COVID-19 and the fear that the pandemic has generated. As anyone who knows me will be well aware of, I am that guy who wears my mask out, washes my hands constantly, socially distances everywhere I go, and minimises my outings so as not to put anyone including myself in harm’s way. That being said, the cinema is the safest place I have been besides my own home since March.

We are practicing physical distancing in our foyers and in our screens, with alternate rows blocked off and three seats being separated to the left and right of each booking party to create a two metre bubble around visitors. We have several hand sanitisers in our foyers, each containing the most effective antibacterial sprays available. We are as staff wearing masks and visors, cleaning all surfaces hourly, and screen doors and railings three times per film screening. We’re staggering showings to minimise overlaps in groups of customers, and we’re strictly following every piece of health and safety guidance that has been given to us since March.

When I say we’re as safe as our own homes, I truly do mean it.

Now, with films being delayed and pushed back and streaming services upping their game, I know the desire to go for the big screen experience is diminishing daily for many filmgoers. And honestly, I don’t blame you at all for not prioritising cinema trips right now – being confident in your own safety is paramount, and whatever we can do to limit the spread of this virus is not to be sneered at or chided.

However, when all of this is over and the world returns to normal, if things go on as they are then I am not exaggerating when I say that your local cinema may no longer stand to see its customers returning. Between furlough, pulled releases, reduced screen capacities, and the continued growth of platforms like Netflix and Disney+ as the top choices for film nights nationwide, chain cinemas and indies alike are losing money hand over fist, and I for one wake up daily dreading being told by management that this will be my last shift working at my local multiplex (and this was written before the awful Cineworld news over the weekend).

But there’s still time, and this is why I am appealing to anyone who sees this to get behind us and help bring us back from the brink of an abyss that would likely tear an irreparable hole in the industry of one of the world’s most beloved art forms. This month, at Vue Cinemas at the very least (though I imagine others are following suit), here are some of the classic films making a comeback in time for Halloween that you absolutely should be seeking out screenings of;

The Shining
Silence of the Lambs
The Evil Dead
The Exorcist
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Nightmare on Elm Street

These are easily amongst the very greatest horror and spook-orientated films of all time, and are coming in alongside other beloved classics like the Harry Potter series and Jurassic Park. Until we get bums on seats again, studios won’t have faith in us to bring back the blockbusters we’ve all been waiting for, and in a game of chess between the general public and the distributors, it is vital that we move first before they simply take us out of the game entirely.

If you love the cinema as much as I do, or even if you simply wouldn’t want to find out at some point down the line that it wouldn’t be there for the next big MCU outing or musical spectacular, then please consider a safe, socially distanced escape from the horror show that is reality into the bliss of the big screen. If you book online with Vue, tickets are only £4.99 per person at the moment, and though you can currently only come with a party of six from your own household (excluding children aged 11 and under), now has never been a better time to spend an evening with the family in a relaxed and safe space.

And if you can’t go for whatever reason? Buy a gift card, a cinema membership, even a Tango Ice Blast (yes, you can just buy an ice blast if you really want to)… anything right now will help us so much.

Tag your friends, share with your families, like this post or repost it or whatever, but if even one person I know decides to head out and catch one of the classics coming up because I’ve written this then I’ll rest a little easier knowing I’ve played my part in trying to help save an industry that means more to me than words can adequately describe.

Catch you at the movies, folks…

Image: BigStock


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