Nothing can be planned, but one thing is certain: If you want to go to the cinema these days, perhaps to distract yourself a little from the general dreariness, you have the opportunity in many places – provided the city stays below the seven-day incidence of 1000. The movie theaters, that was the result of a small survey by the SZ, also open on time and consistently under the 2-G-plus rules that have been in force since Wednesday. This means for visitors: Those who have not yet seen the new James Bond or Ghostbusters film can do so, provided they have been vaccinated or recovered and also present a valid test and wear an FFP2 mask.
The new occupancy rate of a maximum of 25 percent is particularly painful for cinema operators. “The specified capacity limit is not real,” says Hans-Joachim Flebbe, who runs the Astor Film Lounge in the Arri, among other things. Anne Harder from the Neues Maxim is even clearer: “With 25 percent occupancy, we make losses, no matter what we do.” She also wonders if the guests will take it upon themselves to go to the test beforehand. She was stunned by the new rules, which she calls “de facto culture lockdown”. “Cinemas have proven time and again that they are safe places,” there is no talk, there is a mask requirement, everyone looks in the same direction, and there are powerful ventilation systems. “Why is it just culture again?
The only excitement is that there may be a culture lockdown soon, if Munich exceeds the incidence of 1000 and all cultural centers have to close. “Of course, we see the considerable dynamics of infection and in our own interest we want to give our guests a feeling of security when they go to the cinema,” explains Flebbe. In no way is the announcement understandable that “if infections continue to rise, we will again abuse us cinema-makers as pawns and close our cinemas”. And that “although cinemas are demonstrably not among the drivers of infection”. A point that many colleagues underline. “The cinema is a safe place,” says the Cinemaxx, which also regrets the impending lockdown.
On the uncertainty caused by the incidence number, Anne Harder says: “It is very sad and very frustrating when we can only drive on sight.” There is only a reduced program in the New Maxim. All of this is “a catastrophe, since autumn and winter are actually the best time to go to the movies and we urgently need this income to work out a financial cushion for the summer”.
From the Werkstattkino, one of the smallest and most alternative venues in town, there are words that sound almost cynical: “The audience numbers have been in the basement since the summer, and the 25 percent occupancy rate doesn’t bother us. More people don’t come anyway “says Wolfgang Bihlmeier. “It would be nice if we stayed below 1000 in Munich, but I don’t believe in it,” he adds. And: “Hope dies last.”
Thomas Kuchenreuther, who runs the ABC and Leopold cinemas in Schwabing, tries his hand at optimism. He is happy about the many great films in the cinema year 2021, the distributors will have a strong program on offer until the end of the year. His audience appreciates that very much, he says, they missed the screen experience after the long shutdown last spring and winter and came back. Now it has to go on with 2 G plus, of course that is difficult – and an annoying additional effort for the guests. On the other hand: “Maybe now people will come back to the cinemas for whom it was still too dangerous,” says Kuchenreuther.
It was certain that the rules were well accepted by the guests, says Gregory Theile, who runs the Mathäser among other things. Now he has to implement the guidelines of politics, which are not easy to interpret, and different rules apply in each federal state. Would it make sense to have your own test tent in front of the Mathäser? Not at the moment, says Theile, “because we assume that it will be closed soon anyway”.
He also finds the Bavarian way of dealing with young people scandalous: twelve to 17-year-olds are only allowed to go to the cinema if they have been vaccinated, recovered and additionally tested. There are exceptions for them in the catering industry, as the vaccination for this age group was only approved late – they have to stay outside in the cinema, theater or zoo. Since almost 60 percent of them are still not vaccinated, films for young people in the cinema make little sense at the moment. Gregory Theile is certain that there will be a whole series of postponements, “even if it is not yet clear to all film distributors what is in store for us”.
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