Which cinemas open today - and which don't

A backlog of films and testing requirements make it possible to re-open but some are choosing to stay closed, but not why you'd think.

Delphi Lux looking delish.
Delphi Lux looking delish.Pop Eye/Christian Kratsch

Berlin-The marquee at the Kant cinema in Charlottenburg says what we're all thinking: "Endlich wieder Kino (Cinema again at last)". Movie theatres starting 1 July can finally re-open after being closed for eight long months. And almost all of Berlin's 92 cinemas are getting in on the act, even though it's not as easy as it used to be. 

Moviegoers need a negative corona test, proof of vaccination or a certificate that they have recovered from the disease. Masks are also compulsory when entering and moving about the building but not when seated. Some theatres are opening even though the limited audience numbers mean operating uneconomically.

At least the weather is playing along: sunny skies are usually the death of movie theatres. Rain, on the other hand: super movie-friendly.

Twenty-four films premiere Thursday, including the Oscar-winning Nomadland, Robert De Niro's action comedy Kings of Hollywood and Maria Schrader's celebrated Berlinale film I am Your Man. The backlog is enormous.

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Kino International is open, though.
Kino International is open, though.dpa

But a few cinemas aren't re-opening. Yet. Wolf-Kino in Neukölln, for example, the City-Kino Wedding and Acud in Mitte.

"It's summer vacation, our neighbourhood is empty," says Verena von Stackelberg, managing director of Wolf Kino. The arthouse cinema on Weserstraße at the corner of Wildenbruchstraße in Neukölln has already served as a venue for the Berlinale but won't open until 5 August.

Half of its staff also left during the closure, having had to seek other employment or because they're worried about the close quarters of working in movie theatres and bars during a pandemic. Training replacements takes time. 

"The pandemic isn't over," von Stackelberg says. She points to England, where the numbers are going back up, and Israel. "People are thinking carefully about where they want to make their money in the future."

Closed in the summer anyway

Her decision has nothing to do with a lack of enthusiasm - Wolf Kino opened in 2017 with two theatres and a lobby bar with the help of friends, film lovers and professionals - and crowdfunding.

The City-Kino Wedding in the old cinema of the French cultural centre at Müllerstraße 74, also won't open until 5 August - with the British Shorts Film Festival.

"Since we started running the cinema, we've always taken a summer break," says manager Anne Lakeberg. Last summer they forewent the break because of the virus but they won't be doing the same this year.

"For us up there in July, it's a really tough time," Lakeberg says. She rattles off the same reasons as von Stackelberg. The first day of July is a tough new beginning for Berlin cinemas. Warm nights. Late sunsets.

It's always the small print (or lack thereof)

The reason the Acud cinema in Mitte won't open on time is more predictable: the new ventilation system won't be ready by 1 July. But 15 July? Sure.

The small Il-Kino, an arthouse cinema at Nansenstraße 22 in Neukölln, is stuck in a corona conundrum. It will open on 1 July even though the lobby and bar - where tickets are sold - have been rented to a corona test centre.

As if that's not conundrum enough, manager Carla Molino says the centre hasn't paid its rent and the lease is so vague that the centre can stay open as late 8pm - the first movies start at 7pm. She thought the agreement was for the last test to be at 6pm.

Corona rules mean Il-Kino can only seat 19 per showing. Since it's so few, moviegoers don't need a test. Economically, it doesn't make sense to open. 

"But we want to. We want to  show films," she says. The first screenings are already sold out.

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