The U.K. is undergoing a second national lockdown that will begin this week. As a result, movie theaters in the country will once again be shut down for nearly a month. It serves as yet another blow to the exhibition business that has taken a beating in 2020. And it is a business that can only take so many more punches before it is down for the count.
As announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the weekend, all non-essential businesses will be closing as of November 5. This includes pubs, restaurants and yes, movie theaters. Movie and TV production that has been taking place in the U.K. will be allowed to continue for the time being. The lockdown will last until December 2. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had this to say on Twitter, confirming that filming will be able to continue during the second lockdown.
“The changes mean people should WFH [work from home] where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted, e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”
Movies such as The Batman have been filming in the U.K. as of late so that is one bit of good news as the industry looks to the future. But the present continues to look bleak. The box office has been a shadow of its former self with few blockbusters arriving, save for Tenet and The New Mutants, in recent months. But because those movies failed to bring moviegoers en masse, most other big releases were delayed well into 2021. That has created huge problems for theater owners in the U.S. and abroad.
Cineworld, which is based in the U.K. and operates Regal in the U.S., recently shut down all of its theaters again indefinitely. There is no telling if this new lockdown will force any other movies currently on the calendar to be delayed. As other countries look to do what is best for the health and safety of their citizens, more lockdowns and restrictions may be implemented. Boris Johnson had this to say about it at a press conference.
“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature. Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief, by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together. As we come together now to fight the second wave, I want to say something about the way ahead, because people will reasonably ask, ‘When will this end?’ And as I’ve said before, I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring,”
The 2020 box office is down by billions compared to 2019. For now, China and Japan have come back to life but much of the world, especially the U.S., is a long way from getting back to normal. Whether or not theaters can hold out that long remains to be seen. This news was previously reported by Variety.