After weeks stuck at home in the evenings, let’s be honest, everyone wants the same thing: a night out at the movies.
Teacher Kim Noovao says she is one of those looking forward to seeing the cinema re-open. “As a family we like to go to the movies, it's an affordable outing,” she explains.
“I know the kids I teach love going to the movies to see new releases – it gives them something to do and to talk about in school.”
So the question on everyone’s lips: when will Empire Cinema reopen? It’s a query the Napa family, who own the cinema, say they have been fending off daily.
“We are tentatively looking at mid-to-late June depending on what features are available,” said Napa T Napa.
The big movie studios have postponed the theatrical release of almost all this season’s blockbusters until later in the year.
But Napa said the movie distributors might agree to let them rerun films they still had on their server from earlier in the year, and they had also requested some features from independent distributors.
Last year’s Te Kūki 'Āirani Film Festival had shown how very successful independent films could be, he said.
Joshua Baker, the director of that festival, said: “There are a lot of indigenous films that would be able to be screened in Raro during these uncertain times that I believe would be well received by the community, particularly Pasifika / Maori films, which is something I always support.”
The New Zealand Film Commission might be a great way to source some films, he said, and he offered to help curate the film choices.
The next international movie releases are Tenet and Mulan, which do not open until July.
Some US cinema chains have reopened, screening movies that have already been released on-demand, like A Quiet Place II, Valley Girl, Bloodshot and Trolls 2 World Tour. But the cinema release date of those movies has been pushed back to the end of the year in New Zealand and the Pacific.
New Zealand Motion Picture Exhibitors’ Association spokesperson Mark Christensen said smaller cinemas would reopen, but would block out every second seat to provide physical distancing.
“There will be some cinemas opening this week but we've got a two-month gap before we start to see the first of the new studio blockbusters that have been pushed back.”