Movie theaters may have reopened their doors for a good chunk of 2021, but like any other place of business nowadays, they still have to contend with COVID-19. For instance, with the Omicron variant now in the mix, French movie theaters have decided to temporarily ban concessions. Could something like this happened in the United States?
As reported by Deadline, starting Monday, January 3, consuming food and beverages will not be allowed in French movie theaters for three weeks. This is part of a wave of measures French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the government would be taking to combat the spread of the Omicron variant. Others include banning concerts where attendees have to stand for three weeks, as well as making it so patrons at bars and cafes will need to be seated.
This move comes after France recorded 100,000 new COVID cases on Christmas Day, and there may be more to follow. One measure that needs to be voted upon by the French Parliament would require people to show proof they’ve been fully vaccinated to enter movie theaters and other “leisure venues.” If this went through, it would replace the current “health pass” system, which provides the alternative of presenting a negative COVID test in place of vaccination proof.
The Omicron variant is certainly a concern in the United States too; according to The New York Times, as of December 24, the seven-day national average of new daily COVID cases jumped to 197,000, a 65% jump over the past two weeks. This has resulted in airlines being forced to cancel thousands of flights in response to the highly transmissible variant. So one wouldn’t be faulted for wondering if movie theaters stateside could follow in France’s footsteps by banning concessions, despite the fact that many see things like popcorn and soda as essential to the theatrical experience.
For the U.S. though, I imagine the decision not to allow concessions would be made on an individual basis, i.e. big chains like Regal and Cinemark, as well as independent theaters, implementing this on their own rather than the government mandating it. It’s more likely that something akin to France’s “health pass” system would go into effect first, but as things stand now, there’s nothing to indicate movie theaters will operating anything but normally in the coming weeks… well, as normal as things have been during the pandemic era.
With December 2021 closing out with Spider-Man: No Way Home’s outstanding box office performance, as well as the arrival of movies like The King’s Man and A Journal for Jordan, January 2022 will be a bit quieter in comparison, though not without big draws. The fifth Scream movie will arrive on January 14, and Morbius, the third entry in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, will come out on January 28, approximately a year and a half after its original release date. So while movie theaters might not be as packed in January as they were in this month, it’s not like they’ll be devoid of people either, even if many of those folks just want to check out/re-experience No Way Home.
If it’s announced that U.S. movie theaters will implement new measures to deal with COVID-19, we here at CinemaBlend will let you know. Those of you wondering what other movies are lined up for next year can find that information in our 2022 release schedule.