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Pre-paid tickets and old film classics: what movie-goers can expect on first outing to the cinema

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Graham Spurling, director of Movies@Dundrum. Pic: Mark Condren, 30.6.2020

Graham Spurling, director of Movies@Dundrum. Pic: Mark Condren, 30.6.2020

Graham Spurling, director of Movies@Dundrum. Pic: Mark Condren, 30.6.2020

Pre-paid tickets, socially distanced seating, and old movie classics are some of the new features movie-goers can expect to see in action upon their first outing to the cinema.

Cinemas across the country are gearing up to reopen as phase three of the government’s roadmap is now underway, with some already allowing the public back through its doors.

Graham Spurling, joint managing director of the Movies @ Cinemas chain, which has venues in Dundrum, Swords, and Gorey, Co Wexford, said staff scrambled last week to prepare the cinema for safe reopening on Monday.

“Instead of having 33 days for preparing to reopen we only had nine. But we were 90pc of the way there and our staff have been brilliant. They condensed 33 days work into those nine days and got us open on Monday,” he said.

As part of their efforts to prevent infection, the Irish-owned cinema group are encouraging customers to pre-book seats online to assist social distancing and to limit contact with staff.

“Your experience is different insofar as how you get into the building. We are asking people to book on because it cuts down contact with payments and because there’s limited seating.

“If you go online to book online, the computer books off the seats around it automatically so the customer comes in, they can only sit there and they’re miles away from you.”

He added that perspex screens have been installed between all till and ticket-check areas for staff and the public’s safety.

The cinema chain has also had to "staff up" for cleaning duties and to police pick and mix areas and queues.

"Each cinema has got to be deep cleaned in between shows. We have extra time between shows where you might have had 40 minutes before, now we'd have an hour and 20 minutes before.

"We need someone to police the gloves at the pick and mix and we'd need some front door to police hand sanitisers and queuing and so there's a higher focus on the numbers of staff we need."

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Mr Spurling said that the new safety protocols will only be effective if the public are compliant.

“We can put all the things in place that we’re required to put in place, but if the public don’t embrace it and don’t run with us on this, it’s just not going to work, folks.”

Film classics are set to hit the big screen once again as cinema bosses are preparing for the release of new major movie titles to be halted as a result of the pandemic.

"We'll be open now for the next month and a bit with no new films, which is gonna be hard. We had all big blockbuster movies at the end of 2019 and this year we have none potentially until mid August.

"I looked at my historic Dundrum audience and I went through the products that were available to me. I condensed it down to three shows a day and each show is 20 minutes apart.

"We start at 11:10am. The night time show starts in the 6 o'clock region and finishes at 8:20pm. That gives me time for less people to meet each other in the queue and more time to clean.

Little Women, Dirty Dancing, The Iron Giant, and Harry Potter are some of the film favourites that will be screened across the chain's three cinemas.

Siobhan Carr, Head of Operations at Odeon cinemas, said this is an adaption Odeon has also made to fill out schedules.

"We have a lot of great content that we can show people. It gives us a chance to build that confidence in people so when those big blockbusters come out we have all our measures in place and we hope it would help customers feel comfortable coming back to watch those films," she said.

Odeon cinemas are planning to reopen on July 13, but Ms Carr said there has already been a "steady flow" of customers booking online.

"It's been a real mix of what guests are interested in, like some of the kids content that we're bringing back and then some Star Wars content, like the Empire Strikes Back being re-released for its 40th anniversary. That is proving quite popular.

"We're showing the Greatest Showmen, Dirty Dancing as well as some of the newer releases so there's a real mix of everything for everybody to have that opportunity to watch something in a safer cinema."


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