Lockdown easing: when do cinemas open in the UK - and what films might be showing?

Cinemas like Vue, Odeon and Cineworld have been forced to keep their doors closed for much of the pandemic.

Across all four nations of the UK, life is slowly returning to normal as lockdown restrictions gradually ease.

People across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales have been enjoying fresh - albeit still limited - freedoms in recent weeks, including outdoor meetings with friends and family.

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Indoor activities - like visiting the cinema - are still off the cards, but upcoming changes to lockdown will soon see film fans back in their favourite seats.

In most parts of the UK, cinemas are set to reopen from May 17.
In most parts of the UK, cinemas are set to reopen from May 17.

When will cinemas reopen in the UK?

In England, the re-opening of cinemas coincides with stage three of the lockdown easing, on May 17.

Similarly, Scotland hopes to move down to level two restrictions by May 17, when cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues - like bingo halls - will reopen.

Having previously refrained from announcing any easing around indoor entertainment, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on April 24 that Wales would fall in line with England, reopening venues like cinemas and bingo halls on May 17.

Northern Ireland has not laid out a timetable for lockdown easing, saying only that indoor venues like cinemas will reopen in ‘step three’ of unlocking.

What will be showing?

Luckily, after a period in which many cinemas turned to re-runs to fill their schedules, there’ll be an array of films for cinephiles to enjoy from next month, including:

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (May 17): Horror series favourite ‘Saw’ will return to the big screen in a reboot featuring Chris Rock, starring as a detective on the hunt for sadistic serial killer, Jigsaw.

Nomadland (May 17): This award-winning film starring Frances McDormand follows a woman in her sixties who embarks on a roadtrip across the American West after losing everything she has in the recession.

The Courier (May 17): Already released in the US, this Cold War thriller stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a salesman-turned-spy who races against time to end the Cuban missile crisis.

Sound of Metal (May 17): In a role that earned him an Oscar nomination, Riz Ahmed plays a heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing.

Peter Rabbit 2 (May 21): For kids, Peter Rabbit’s sequel film hopes to be showing from May 21, starring actor James Corden as the voice of Peter.

Cruella (May 28): This long-anticipated live action Disney film explores the origin story of the enchantingly villainous Cruella de Vil, starring Emma Stone in the lead role.

Conjuring 3: the devil made me do it (May 28): The third in the popular Conjuring series is set for release in May, following paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they take on the case of a murder suspect claiming he was possessed by a devil.

What else will open from May 17?

Other indoor entertainment venues such as children’s play areas, amusement arcades and bowling alleys will be permitted to open in England, Scotland and Wales from May 17.

Some limited indoor mixing will also be allowed from this date.

It is hoped that towards the end of June, most restrictions on everyday life will lifted, though the four nations may - as they have throughout the pandemic - unlock at different speeds.