Few movie theaters open across Turkey

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After a three-month closure as part of the fight against the new type of coronavirus (COVID-19), few of the movie theaters that were allowed to start operations on July 1 opened their doors.

Within the scope of the circular issued by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, movie theaters were allowed to continue their activities as of July, on condition that they comply with the measures taken by the Health Ministry and the Science Board.

Movie Theater Investors Association (SİSAY) Secretary-General Fevzi Genç said that 95 percent of movie theaters in Turkey is under their roof, and that it was the association that made the commercial decisions.

“Most of movie theaters are not opening today [July 1]. Among 2,400 movie theaters, 15-20 small theaters will open. Actually, movie theaters ‘cannot be opened.’ We predict that only 35-40 percent will serve in the week of Aug. 7,” said Genç.

Stating that the cinema sector had a troubled period with filmmakers last year and did not have a successful period, Genç noted that they made a good start in 2020, but that today the movie theaters are in financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stating that July and August are in a bad season for movie theaters, Genç said the Turkish audience does not prefer to go to the cinema in the summer.

“In order to contribute to the normalization of the country, we would like to open theaters even if we make a loss in a bad season, but due to the problems we experienced last year, we are not in a position to suffer. In our industry, danger bells are ringing. Another reason why the theaters are not opened is that cinema is an art that goes in sync with the world. Apart from Turkish productions, foreign productions have constantly been postponed, too,” he said.

“Release dates are constantly delayed in the U.S. So, we cannot release the films, too. Christopher Nolan’s film ‘Tenet’ is one of the biggest blockbusters this summer. It was set to hit theaters on July 31, but the production company postponed it to Aug. 12. Some of our members are planning to open the season on Aug. 7 with this movie. But if the release date of this movie gets postponed again, movie theaters will not open because we want to bring our audience together with good movies,” he added.

Stating that the 15-20 movie theaters that opened on July 1 will screen films from March, Genç reminded that the release of Turkish films was also delayed as the shootings had stopped.

“The chain is broken; it will take some time to repair it. Nevertheless, 100 percent of the theaters will be opened in October,” he added.

Disinfection between sessions

Zafer Yufkayürek, director of Arcadium Movie Theaters, which is one of the few theaters that opened its doors in Turkey, said that they finished their preparations in line with a circular released by the ministry, and the staff will serve wearing masks and visors.

Yufkayürek stated that cinema lovers will get their tickets with an electronic ticket system and that the body temperature of the guests will be measured before being accepted into the theater.
“Under the circular, we cannot exceed 60 percent capacity. We want to provide a safe service to our guests, asking them to ensure social distance. We sell tickets, leaving two seats empty in all directions. Halls are disinfected between sessions,” he said.

Yufkayürek stressed that three of the seven halls with a capacity of 1,125 seats will be opened as they reduced the number of sessions and will serve between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“We released Oscar awarded films of last year and animated films for families with children,” he added.

Many of the almost 30 private theaters in the capital Ankara have also decided not to open on July 1 due to their preparations for the September-October period and because they won’t provide sufficient income if they were to open now.

Private theaters including the Tatbikat Sahnesi, Çankaya Sahne and Ankara Art Theater, will not open their doors due to the pandemic.

Hurriyet Daily News

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