Palace Cinemas to close until further notice, other circuits cap sessions

18 March, 2020 by Jackie Keast

Following on from the Federal Government’s ban of all “non-essential” gatherings of more than 100 people, and out of concern for patrons and staff amid the coronavirus pandemic, Palace Cinemas has decided to close all sites indefinitely from tomorrow.

Palace operates 17 sites across New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.


In a statement, the chain said it intended to re-open as soon as circumstances allowed, with patrons who have booked online or in-person eligible for full refunds.

“We sincerely thank you all for your patronage and support during this unprecedented time and our excellent staff for their efforts and dedication under challenging circumstances. Rest assured we will be back offering sublime entertainment and a place to indulge and escape when it is safe to do so.”

Elsewhere, Hoyts has placed a limit on the number of bookings that can be made through its systems, blocking out additional seats so that there will never be more than 100 people per auditorium. In addition, it has blocked out seats within cinemas to ensure patrons have appropriate spacing between them and then next person.

“We have also introduced a range of other measures to help ensure our guests’ and team members’ safety, these include a virus cleaning agent which is being used at high touchpoint areas and surfaces, reminders in all toilets to hand wash, regular seat cleaning between sessions and ongoing communication with our site managers to regularly remind our staff of the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices,” a spokesperson told IF.

Hoyts is implementing seat separation measures in its cinemas.

“We are constantly reviewing our operations in the light of developments and will respond to any updates from the health authorities.”

Event Cinemas remain open, but the circuit continues to monitor and assess the situation. It has put in place increased hygiene measures.

“Cleaning and sanitising processes have been increased as well as a higher frequency of surface cleaning and sterilisation in public areas. We continue to maintain a high standard of cleanliness across our locations, with all cinemas regularly cleaned and maintained during operating hours, and professional cleaning teams conducting detailed cleans every single night, in every single Event Cinema,” said a spokesperson.

“Seating maps have been reconfigured to ensure adequate distance between guests in every session. Our cinemas now have a capacity limit of 100 guests. We are encouraging customers to use their own device to book digital tickets and choose their own seats via the Event Cinemas App or on the Event Cinemas website. Contactless payment is also encouraged in-cinema.”

Similarly, Dendy Cinemas has taken steps to reduce seat count to ensure there are no more than 50 per cent of seats available per auditorium, while in larger auditoriums the maximum capacity is set at 100. The chain has also implemented stagger seating procedures, as well as increased hygiene and cleaning protocols.

In an statement today, Dendy urged that “by the nature of our product and design, our venues feature smaller auditoriums and avoids large crowds.”

These are obviously trying and uncertain times for exhibition and distribution, as well as the broader industry. As cinemas across the US and Europe shutter their doors, many releases, among them Mulan, Fast & Furious 9, A Quiet Place II, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and No Time to Die have been postponed. As IF reported, Universal Pictures has also taken unprecedented steps to release current titles such as The Invisible Man, Emma and The Hunt on-demand in the US from Friday.