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Film

Save Our Souls, Save Our Cinemas

The latest entry in the James Bond franchise is titled with a defiant claim: No Time To Die. But sadly for cinemas, there is, and apparently that time is 2020.

With the latest Bond release being pushed back for a second time to April 2021, red velvet cushions remain empty, popcorn kernels remain unpopped, and steel grates remain firmly shuttered day and night. Odeon has chosen to only open some branches on the weekend whilst Cineworld has chosen to completely shut down all of its sites, including its Picturehouse brand, for the foreseeable future.

But Bond is not the only reason cinemas have been forced to close. Disney chose to release the hotly anticipated Mulan on their streaming service instead of in theatres, yet the larger blow was the disappointing ticket sales for Tenet, the new Christopher Nolan film heralded to save what it ended up wounding. Although it did okay commercially in the UK, cinemas in major distribution areas such as California have been barred from opening, which led to the film making very little in comparison to other momentous Nolan releases.

The female-fronted superhero films that audiences have been crying out for have flown to 2021 to try and save themselves, but have left cinemas stranded. It’ll take more than Wonder Woman to save them now.

Cinemas have been left to die. The lack of blockbusters leads to a lack of audience which leads to a further lack of blockbusters creating a vicious circle ending in closure. Those that remain open are eerier than the house in The Shining: no one is manning the confectionery desk as the masked figures do nothing but dart towards the door of the screen, spending no time dawdling in the lobby like before.

The Friday night bustle is lacking, there’s no noise of first-date couples making awkward small talk. No teenagers huddling together moaning about their parents and how Marvel has gone downhill since Endgame. No elderly couples debating the chocolate raisins- they’ll get stuck in your dentures Derek! – or the packet of Werther’s Original butterscotch sweets. No children excitedly squealing about being taken out for a movie by their Dad that finishes a bit after their bedtime. No movie theme-songs in the background on a never-ending repeating playlist that drives the poor ticket sellers crazy.

But this change in atmosphere doesn’t mean that going to the cinema can’t be a magical experience. Your face-covering is forgotten when that wide-screen rolls out all of the way, immersing you in a new world. In many ways the viewing experience itself hasn’t changed, you can still lose yourself in the film, awoken only when the credits roll and you realise your girlfriend is digging in around your feet for her handbag. There are so few options right now for things to do, especially since the weather is getting colder, and having tinnies in the Scottish wind is getting more undesirable. So have a night out, and one that doesn’t end at 6pm.

Don’t let cinemas die. Don’t forget how great they are and go out and support the silver screen. Keep the Vue open but take care of the independents like The Filmhouse that are struggling more than the giants. It’s the bums on those red velvet cushions that will see the return of Cineworld, the return of The Cameo Picturehouse, the return of the blockbuster, the return of the Oscar-winning drama, the return of the popcorn-scented buzz.

Image Credis: byronv2 via Flickr

By Alexa Sambrook

Alexa Sambrook is a second year French and German student. After joining The Student at the start of Semester 2 of her first year, she wrote for the Features and TV and Film section. She was made TV and Film editor in May 2020 and works alongside Aron Rosenthal. She is passionate about building community in the section at this time.