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Library of 450 film classics aims to lure audiences back to UK cinemas

A consortium of studios, distributors and exhibitors are teaming up to present would-be cinemagoers with a – hopefully – irresistible package of classic films and recent hits to encourage them back into venues this summer.

Jumpstarting trade at the UK’s venues is a priority for the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA), which has compiled the list after negotiations with studios and exhibition rights holders. Classic franchises feature prominently, alongside arthouse hits and newer releases whose cinema runs were curtailed or upended by coronavirus.

Films in this last category, due to open in the immediate aftermath of the closure of cinemas on 20 March, include Trolls: World Tour, whose digital release was a huge success for distributors Universal, and led to a row between the studio and multiplex chains AMC Theatres (which owns Odeon) and Cineworld.

Military Wives, Misbehaviour and Calm With Horses are among titles released just before lockdown which could now enjoy a more extended run; likewise Sonic the Hedgehog, Onward, Bloodshot and Emma.

Popular series to have a second life include the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Twilight films, as well as the Back to the Future, Dark Knight and Matrix trilogies.

Recent Oscar winners, such as Parasite, 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, will also be up for grabs.

The full list – titled Relaunching Cinema: Content for Recovery – was sent to exhibitors on 19 June for them to decide which titles from the collection they’d like to option; exact details of the deal would then be decided between the companies. It is not felt that studios and exhibitors will be allowing exhibitors to recoup all profits, as was the case in a similar initiative in China.

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The collection is organised into themes, including “Best of British”, “All-Time Classics”, “BAME Voices”, “LGBTIQ+ Cinema” and “Women in Film”.

FDA CEO Andy Leyshon told Screen International his hope was that they’d act as both an incentive and a fallback. “These films are there for when cinemas open to help get them back up to operational speed and can be dipped into when they need a film during a quiet period. The hope is that it will help rekindle the audience’s enthusiasm for cinema.

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Tenet will no longer be the first major new release to test the waters in UK cinemas, after studio Warner Bros pushed its release back by a fortnight, to 31 July. A week before that comes Mulan, Disney’s live-action remake, which will come out 20 days after Vue cinemas open their doors again on 4 July.

Cineworld, Showcase and Odeon are all working towards a 10 July resumption of screenings. Cineworld – which owns the Picturehouse chain – has published some guidelines on hygiene and safety measures that will be taken in its venues, including staggered showtimes, restricted seating, deep cleans and sanitisation stations.

Their site does indicate concession stalls selling food and drink will reopen, which suggests mask-wearing for customers will not be on the menu.


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