Back to the Big Screen

Matt Maddison, AV Media Executive


On Monday 17th May, cinemas in the UK reopened their doors to the public. I went to my local Vue to see what – if anything – has changed about the cinema experience.

As expected, the normal COVID precautions applied: masks on, one-way systems, ‘Keep Your Distance’ floor signs, everything that is now second nature. At my local at least, more touchscreens have been permanently installed to allow customers to buy their tickets and refreshments at a distance, only going to the counter to collect food and drinks. You are definitely conscious of these subtle changes to the customer journey, but the novelty will wear off just as quickly as wearing masks. Once you’re sat down with popcorn in-hand, the experience is essentially just as it was pre-pandemic. What struck me, however, was the number of people present at 1:35pm on a Monday afternoon. I expected to be only one of a handful in line, but a healthy amount and mix of people indicated an obvious appetite to return to cinemas and enjoy films as intended.

Similarly, admission figures from DCM show a positive story. Attendance on 17th May equaled the 23-day total achieved when cinemas briefly re-opened in July. No doubt lockdown fatigue and the vaccine uptake played an important role in this.

Now, as summer approaches with bigger releases on the horizon: Disney’s Cruella, A Quiet Place 2 and Black Widow to name a few, cinema is returning as a viable and effective media option. At this point, it seems self-evident for advertisers to make the most of the excitement. TV, VOD and online video kept the nation entertained and informed over lockdown, but cinema has always positioned itself as ‘appointment to view’ content and it’s an appointment long overdue.

All-in-all, what a joy it was to go back.

(For those curious, Godzilla v Kong was my film of choice, but I think three lockdowns desensitized me to the destruction caused by city-levelling monsters. I bet the characters in the film never had to travel to three different supermarkets just for toilet roll.)