Glitzy film premieres could return to London’s Leicester Square by next year and cinema-goers will return to socially-distanced screenings at pre-Covid levels in six months, according to the boss of the Vue cinema chain in the UK.

Chief executive Tim Richards, who also sits on the board of the British Film Institute (BFI), added he expects customers will spread out their trips through the day, rather than at the traditional evening pinch points.

He said: “We believe we are going to be doing pre-Covid-level box office, but we’re going to be doing it in a different way.

Disney’s Mulan held its premiere in London’s Leicester Square, but, following the pandemic, decided to make it available only on its own streaming service.

“The movies are going to be played more often, to more people, and playing longer as well, and through that we are going to the similar levels of box offices we had pre-Covid.

“I think we’re going to have a little bit of a bumpy road in some areas, but I think you’re going to see as much of a return to normalcy probably in the next six months.”

Cinemas across the world, including Vue’s nearly 2,000 screens across Europe and Taiwan, have been shut down in response to Covid-19 and film studios have been forced to shut down production during local and international lockdowns.

Mr Richards explained: “It’s unprecedented. I’ve spent six months trying to survive. Every day, survive. Every day, every hour of every day talking to liquidity [lenders] to survive, and it’s been really difficult.

“But our belief in the future of the industry has never been as strong as it is now.
“I think the greatest testament to that is the amount that is currently being committed by the studios to future film production.”

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