Danish cinemas re-open with strong new titles

26 MAY 2020

Wildland, Kød & Blod / PHOTO: DFI, Christian Geisnæs

The Danish film Wildland starring Sidse Babette Knudsen is among four new releases set to lure Danes back into cinemas this Thursday - May 28.

Initially scheduled to reopen June 8, Danish cinemas have had the greenlight from the government last Thursday to go ahead earlier, after more than two-months lockdown.

The decision was made by all political parties as part a gradual plan to reopen Danish society, as health authorities said the spread of Covid-19 was slowing down. 

“It feels great that things are beginning to start up again and that the business as a whole can open up earlier and with less restrictions that one could have anticipated,” commented Rasmus Krogh, Nordisk Film’s Director of Nordic Acquisitions. 

Indeed although the assembly ban of more than ten people still applies in Denmark, regulations for cinemas outlined by the government make it possible for up to 500 people to be in the same auditorium as long as 10 people maximum are sitting together.

The key rules also include: people from the same household can sit together, otherwise every other seat must be empty or individuals should stay at least one meter away from the centre of each seat. Also, there must be a maximum of one person per two square meters of floor space in each auditorium, a limit raised to one person per four square meters for the cinema lobby. 

Lars Werge, head of the Danish Cinema Association says the biggest challenge will be for cinemas to rearrange their lobby to comply with the social distancing rules. “Cinemas of 300/400 seats will have to reorganise their lobby area to make it possible, and the selling of coffee and popcorn will also need to be rearranged but we can learn for instance from supermarkets, who are already applying social distancing rules with their customers,” told Werge to nordicfilmandtvnews.com. 

Several smaller cinemas are already back in business, and from Friday May 29, 11 out of the 23 venues from Nordisk Film Cinemas (Denmark’s largest cinema chain) will follow suit, with most of the remaining Nordisk Film cinemas lined up for a June 4 re-opening.

“We have received good and accurate guidelines from the authorities, but with 23 very different cinemas, it is of course a bit of a puzzle to make it work,” said Casper Bonavent, managing director at Nordisk Film Cinemas Denmark, adding that the Nordic group has set up a clear opening strategy (including signs, distance markers, hand sanitisers sprays) so that “guests can safely come to the cinema and have a good experience.”

Thanks to the less restrictive social distancing rules - compared to Norway and Sweden for instance - local distributors have embraced the re-launch of the theatrical season, backing it with top new releases. 

On Thursday four new films will premiere: the Danish crime drama Wildland (originally lined up by Scanbox for a March 12 release), the US documentary about Quentin Tarantino QT8 (Reel Pictures), US indie comedy The Peanut Butter Falcon (Angel Films) and Japanese animated film Weathering with You (Camera Film). 


Danish cinemas re-open with strong new titles

Wildland, Kød & Blod, Sandra Guldberg Kampp / PHOTO: Bac Film, Christian Geisnæs

For Werge, the big kick-start for cinema-going will be June 4, with Sony’s Little Women, part of the influential Danish Cinema Club or Biografklub Danmark (BKD).

Three other high-quality titles lined up by BDK until the end of the year include the Danish films The Exception (July 2, SF Studios), The Good Traitor (August 13, SF Studios) and UK film Wild Rose (July 23, Scanbox).

Speaking to nordicfilmandtvnews.com, BKD’s managing director Lykke Lind Thomsen said that "opening cinemas without any new film would have been difficult" so she is all the more pleased with the distributors’ support. “Many cinemas will be open by June 4 and we know that our 221,000 members miss their social outgoing life and moviegoing experience. “


Danish cinemas re-open with strong new titles

The Exception Undtagelsen / PHOTO: Fridthjof Film Sf Studios

Regarding Little Women, Thomsen said she expects the film “to have a longer run than before Covid-19”. “Many Danes will not be able to travel abroad on summer holiday so we expect all of the last four films in this year’s [BDK] programme to have a longer run in cinemas during the summer,” she noted.

SF Studios’ Head of Theatrical Distribution Denmark Frederik Malling Juul concurs: “There is no competition out there, and at least 80% of Danes will spend summer in Denmark. Also, epidemic numbers are looking really good, and there is a lot of confidence in the authorities. This means, that once things open up here, Danes will take advantage of the new opportunities. This has happened with daycare, schools, malls, restaurants and bars, so we expect the same for cinemas,” he told nordicfilmandtvnews.com.

“Every single survey conducted, shows that the audience really are looking forward to going to the cinema – even the elderly members of Biografklub Danmark," said Juul.

SF Studios’ other major new Nordic films set to premiere include The Swedish animated film Pelle-No Tail (June 4) and Lone Scherfig’s anticipated drama The Kindness of Strangers (June 18).


Danish cinemas re-open with strong new titles

The Kindness Of Strangers, Tahar Rahim, Bill Nighy / PHOTO: Per Arnesen

Other Nordic titles lined up for the coming months include Nordisk Film’s Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond (June 25), Danish animated film Blokhavn (June 25), Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (August 27), Øst for Paradis’ Swedish award-winning documentary Ridge (July 2) and Icelandic drama Echo (August 13)
(source for the release dates as of May 26: kino.dk)