Cinemas could reopen in July, Vue boss says

Tim Richards says cinemas need to 'demonstrate that we're not like sporting fixtures or music concerts'

Cinemas could reopen as early as mid-July in time for the release of Christopher Nolan's latest blockbuster Tenet, the boss of Vue has said.

Screenings could restart within a few months, according to the chain's chief executive Tim Richards -  albeit with drastically smaller audiences as companies work with ministers to find a way that social distancing can be maintained.

In a boost for millions of film fans, Mr Richards said he hopes that theatres can be back in business for the release of action thriller Tenet on July 17.

Mr Richards said cinemas needed to "demonstrate that we're not like sporting fixtures or music concerts" and can control the number of people entering. 

He added that the firm was looking to use lessons from the Sars outbreak in Taiwan, where it has 20 screens, to manage a return to business in the UK. 

Cinemas worldwide have been forced to shut due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

There are concerns demand could be slow to return even when restrictions are eased, as movie-goers become hesitant about spending several hours indoors with strangers. 

The world's second-largest cinema operator Cineworld warned in March that it could collapse due to coronavirus.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Mr Richards struck a bullish tone. He said that cinemas are a "big part of the social fabric" and there will be "demand like we've never seen before" post-virus. 

He also claimed that going to the cinema is among the top three activities Britons are most looking forward to when restrictions are eased. 

Vue operates almost 230 sites across eight countries, mostly in Europe.