After weeks since cinemas reopened for the first time after the Covid-19 lockdown, cinemas have started to screen the first new blockbuster film.
The idea of returning to the big screen may sound daunting for some in the midst of a pandemic – you are stuck in a big room full of strangers after all!
But Wednesday (August 26) marked the long-awaited cinematic release of Tenet, an action-packed and mind-bending blockbuster by Christopher Nolan.
Since the reopening of some indoor cinemas from July 31, cinemas had to screen many classic titles or other productions which were simultaneously released on streaming services like HBO Max.
Many big productions that were due to release during the pandemic were delayed, while other anticipated flicks such as Disney’s Mulan will be streamed exclusively on Disney+ for a fee of £20.
So I went to watch Tenet on its release date to see how much the blockbuster opening day experience has changed since Covid-19 restrictions have been imposed.
Mask on or off?
It was a constant cycle of wearing and removing my face mask
This was not the first time I visited the cinema since its reopening, but even though I was acquainted with the social distancing restrictions in place, it was still difficult to comply to.
Masks or a face covering is mandatory during the screening – but you can remove it to snack on popcorn or sip your drink.
It is recommended that between this, you should put your mask back on.
Admittedly, the constant routine of taking your mask off and putting it on during the film can become tiresome and irritating – considering watching a film should be the perfect time to unwind.
While I still complied with the rules despite my irritation, I noticed other attendees were frustrated and just removed it entirely for the rest of the film.
Personally, I still remain relatively cautious about social distancing despite the relaxed rules. So, for me it felt somewhat uncomfortable to have to take off my mask at all, especially when others didn’t even bother wearing theirs.
To clarify while the routine is annoying, wearing a mask throughout the film did not take away from the overall thrill and experience of watching a brand-new film.
How normal does it feel?
The most shocking part for me was just how empty the screen was.
It is almost eery to sit in what felt like a ghost town, considering that a Christopher Nolan film would normally sell out immediately on its opening day.
Around 17 attendees were there to watch the film (myself included).
Cinemas have restricted the number of seats available to enforce social distancing, but it was clear that the venue was far from its full socially distanced capacity.
Some people may jump with joy on the fact that screens are less crowded, but part of me felt sad to not be in a room of equally excited movie-goers.
It’s not to say that things aren’t normal, in fact for most of the time you’ll be tranced by the film and forget your surroundings.
But at the same time there definitely is less of the thrilled atmosphere you would get in a blockbuster launch day.
Elsewhere in Leicester Square, a popular spot to watch new releases, the cinema was equally emptier than it would be pre-Covid.
This was taken shortly before the start of Tenet in Leicester Square
How safe does it feel in the cinema?
Screens were a lot emptier
Considering that even the first day failed to draw in large crowds in the cinema, things do feel relatively safe.
In Cineworld at least, staff handling your tickets and food all wear masks – and people are seated at a convenient distance.
Even if the screen were maxed out at its restricted capacity, there still would be generally enough distance to ensure safety against Covid-19.
Granted, this depends on how compliant people are with the face masks rule. In my previous cinema experiences people stuck with the rules – albeit there would just be around 5 people in a screen.
John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in Tenet
But when watching Tenet, it had me worried that some people gave up with the face mask rules during the film.
Of course you can be your own judge of it, but if you were to book a seat far enough from others, then you should feel relatively safe.