Norway’s Theaters have a Successful Opening Weekend Following Closures

Photo by Jacoblund via Envato Elements

Norway’s Theaters have a Successful Opening Weekend Following Closures

By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer

Norway became the first European country to open theaters this past weekend, and even with restrictions, moviegoers made their way back to the big screen.

Fifteen percent of the theaters in Norway decided to reopen to accommodate moviegoers.

The theater Ringen Kino, owned by Norway’s largest exhibitor Nordisk Film Kino, sold 96% of its available tickets.

With social distancing guidelines in place, only 50 people were allowed per screen. More than 1,000 people came in and out of the theater.

In an exclusive interview with Deadline, Jannicke Haugen, CEO of Nordisk Film Kino, and Christin Berg, Director of Programming, outlined how Norway successfully opened its movie theaters.

“The Norwegian government has decided to allow gatherings of up to 50 people if social distancing, sanitation and health guidelines are followed,” they said.

To do this, they, “Limit the amount of shows per day and do not run at full capacity. We also ensure that guests are seated at least one meter apart [not including members of the same household who can sit together].”

The cinema is also cleaned regularly throughout the day.

Haugen and Berg said they’ve used recent months to prepare so that both employees and moviegoers felt safe coming to the theater again.

“We are selling concessions as normal, but we encourage our guests to not touch items they are not buying,” they said.

Some items, like popcorn cups, are being filled in advance in a “safe and clean environment.”

The pair say guests have reacted very positively to the reopening

“Guests feel safe, and they have really been looking forward to going to the cinema again. Our staff gets a lot of smiles and positive remarks. We haven’t had any negative reactions; I think guests fully understand and appreciate all the safety precautions we are taking.”

Haugen and Berg believe people will have more confidence when they come back to the movies after seeing a successful first weekend.

“I have no doubt that people will return to cinemas. It is a popular and sought after out-of-home experience, and we all really miss going out, don’t we?

They added, “We can see when we ask our guests that a high percentage of them say that they are planning to go to the cinema just as often as before the COVID-19 closures.”

The Norwegian box office showed that Disney’s ONWARD came out on top, followed by BLOODSHOT, THE GENTLEMAN, and PARASITE. Local titles KLOVN 3: THE FINAL and FLUKTEN VER GRENSEN also did well.

Overall, the pair said the opening of the theaters, “Exceeded our expectations.”

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