Movie Theaters Stay Open in France, but Hold the Popcorn

Snack, drink ban at venues takes effect Monday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2021 6:30 PM CST
Movie Theaters Stay Open in France, but Hold the Popcorn
People wear face masks as they ice skate at a fair Wednesday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

No more munching, crunching and slurping at the movies in France: The country's increasingly fraught fight against an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections is putting a stop to eating and drinking at French cinemas, just as they show signs of recovering from the brutal economic bashing of lockdowns last year. COVID-19 measures kicking in Monday, once New Year's celebrations are out of the way, will mean an enforced rest for popcorn machines and ice creams left in cold storage. The ban of at least three weeks on eating and drinking also applies to theaters, sports venues, and public transport, the AP reports.

For cinema owners hoping to lure back movie fans who switched to home viewing during the pandemic, not being able to tempt them with candies and soft drinks is another blow. French cinemas sold 96 million tickets in the eight months they have been open this year, a jump of 47% over 2020. Ticket sales are still down 55% since 2019, the National Center for Film and Moving Images said Thursday. Benoit Ciné Distribution, which supplies 70% of France's cinemas with popcorn, sweet treats and drinks, was deluged with both order postponements and delivery requests from movie houses for the final weekend before the ban, with billboards advertising Spider-Man: No Way Home and Matrix Resurrections.

As well as the food and drink ban, there'll once again also be limits on crowd numbers at public venues, with no more than 2,000 allowed indoors and 5,000 outdoors. The limits don't apply to election campaign rallies, infuriating some musicians who will no longer be allowed to perform for stand-up crowds. Some suggested, only half-jokingly, that they may rebrand their concerts as political rallies. "It's going to be strange to just go to the cinema and do without all these little moments," Vincent Bourdais said as he waited in Marly-le-Roi to see Spider-Man. "Often, when one imagines the cinema, one thinks of the auditorium, the beautiful posters, the popcorn, the smells." (More France stories.)

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