In Belgium, cinemas are closing their doors

Belgium has just announced the closure of its cinemas as of December 26, for an indefinite period.

The dark rooms probably thought they were getting out of the woods. After two complicated years for the 7th art, which accumulates delays in production and distribution, cinemas are finding an attendance rate close to the post-covid average. In October 2021, 14 million spectators went to French cinemas, against 19.8 million during the same period in 2019. The return of blockbusters in France has also made it possible to break certain attendance records, as for Spider-Man: No Way Home which drew over 2.09 million spectators in just 5 days. This is the best start since The Lion King in 2019 (2.56 million). The arrival of Matrix: Resurrections on our screens, this Wednesday, December 22, also promises to emulate.

But the Omicron variant could undermine this dynamic. In Belgium, to curb the spread of the virus, the consultation committee declared the closure of cinemas as of December 26th, and this for an indefinite period. Pierre-Yves Jeholet, Minister-President of the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, indicated that “Aid measures for the cultural sector will be implemented” reports Allociné. Discussions will take place at the beginning of next January.

“Even the experts weren’t asking for the theaters to be closed!”

While the end-of-year holiday season represents 20% of annual revenue, operators express their incomprehension in the face of this new measure, which they consider “Totally disproportionate”. Kinepolice spokesperson Anneleen Van Troos explains to Les Echos “We are angry! We have taken all measures to ensure the health safety of visitors, whether in terms of reservations, social distancing, ventilation, etc. All international studies show that the risks of contamination are minimal in cinemas ”.

Last October, as in France, Belgium made it compulsory to present a health pass (Covid Safe Ticket) at the entrance to closed places, including cinemas. Wearing a mask is also required.

Soon in France ?

In France, the epidemic continues to progress. This Wednesday, December 22, 16,188 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized and 84,272 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours. However, while the efforts of the executive are now focused on the 3rd dose and vaccination of 5-11 year olds, a closure of cultural places is not yet envisaged.

On December 20, during an interview on the set of C News, Roselyne Bachelot reassured all the players in the sector. “As the situation is, and where we see it unfolding, the closure of places of culture or the reduction of gauges is not on the agenda”.

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