Limelight Cinemas general manager Alexis Poulsen. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Limelight Cinemas general manager Alexis Poulsen. Picture: Cordell Richardson

What cinema reopening looks like in the ‘new normal’

MOVIE lovers are rejoicing as they will once again be able to sit in front of the big screen with a box of popcorn when Limelight Cinemas Ipswich reopens from tomorrow.

But it may be months before local audiences get to watch the big blockbusters that weren't released due to COVID-19 shutting down cinemas around the world.

A couple of new releases will be screened alongside several classics from Friday as the cinema in Riverlink Shopping Centre ramps up.

General manager Alexis Poulsen said the cinema was able to host private group bookings in the past few months but it would be a return to "as normal as a cinema can be in a COVID-19 safe world."

Ms Poulsen said staff were excited for more moviegoers to return.

About 75 are employed at Limelight and burger bar Ruby Chews Burgers and Shakes, many of them local students.

Limelight has four traditional screens, two extreme digital screens and two lounge cinemas.

Capacity will be capped by State Government and Queensland Health protocols.

"All of our cinemas are restricted to the one per four sqm rule," Ms Poulsen said.

"Once you knock out every second row, which is part of our social distancing as well, and two seats between bookings you basically won't even meet that rule.

"You limit a lot of our capacity in the cinemas.

"All of our staff have also completed the infectious COVID-safe training as well."

Limelight Cinemas general manager Alexis Poulsen. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Limelight Cinemas general manager Alexis Poulsen. Picture: Cordell Richardson

New releases from tomorrow include horror thriller Follow Me and comedy The King of Staten Island, while classics like The Lion King, Moana and Alien will be shown.

Recent releases Love Sarah, The Personal History of David Copperfield and Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs will also be screened.

Ms Poulsen said it was hard to say when big blockbusters delayed by the pandemic would be available to screen here.

"We had held off a little bit to reopen because the cinema industry is so heavily reliant on the global market," she said.

"Our guiding star is meant to be Tenet, the Christopher Nolan film. It moved from mid-July to the end of July then mid-August.

"As far as we understand, it could be moving further.

"We're hanging on with The King of Staten Island and Follow Me and any of the films that the distributors are happy to release in Australia to keep our cinemas going while we wait for the United States to be back on board.

"I would have loved to see (James) Bond (film No Time To Die). Peter Rabbit got moved back and so did Mulan. We've got such a huge line-up of films ready to release once our world goes back to some sort of normality. Right now we're hanging on."

Ms Poulsen hoped the break would give people more appreciation for watching something on the big screen.

Limelight is promoting online bookings and contactless payments to stop the spread of the virus.

"There's really nothing that beats the big screen," she said.

"Once we started doing all our testing for the cinemas and you worked through our upper foyer and you feel the rumble of the cinemas going … it felt like some sort of normality returned to my world.

"Across the building we employ 75 local Ipswich staff. We were all stood down.

"That was the most heartbreaking thing to do. They're so excited things are back."