Arts & Entertainment

Lights, Camera, Action!

By Mark Morellini

After a three-month national hiatus of all indoor activities as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, movie-goers should be delighted that cinemas will commence re-opening on July 2nd.

But the anticipated return of Australia’s favourite indoor recreation leaves many people with one very important question – is it safe to return to cinemas owing to COVID-19?

Benjamin Zeccola CEO of Palace Cinemas explained that the lockdown was inevitable and absolutely necessary. “We were the first cinema group to close because at that moment there was an enormous community concern and there were staff concerns as well. Customers had also stopped coming to the cinema in the third week of March and in the absence of that time social distancing and contact tracing, it didn’t seem like it was the right thing to continue, even though we didn’t know the government would mandate a closure in the coming weeks.”

Now there is an accepted practice of social distancing and other measures have also been implemented to ensure the safety of all patrons. “We will be running everything through contactless payments and our booking system now has an algorithm that separates your booking from other bookings so you can sit with your family and friends all in a row together, but there will be two vacant seats on either side. In most cinemas every second row will also be removed from sale so there will be plenty of space and fresh air.”

Other measures that should restore moviegoer’s confidence include cleaning regimes and routines which ensure there’s a deep clean in-between all sessions and separating staff members who conduct the booking transactions from those serving popcorn, pouring wine, and passing the choc tops over the counter. Patrons must also provide their details to gain access.

“As an added precaution if a patron is visibly ill they will most certainly be asked to leave immediately and we would remain as much as possible in contact with that person to see if there is a subsequent diagnosis and if there is, full contact tracing would occur.”

When asked whether moviegoers should feel confident returning to Palace Cinemas, Zeccola was adamant that it is absolutely safer than ever. “It’s safer than public transport, safer than supermarkets, gymnasiums, and any other form of indoor recreation. People will have 4 square meters per person and 1.5 meters enforced inside the venues and with all the other measures in place, the chances of contracting the virus are so minimal that there’s literally no reason to worry.”

Motion picture production has resumed after a three-month worldwide lockdown and there may be an effect on content in the coming months, but Palace Cinemas have a great line up of movies for all audiences to enjoy in July. Walt Disney’s Mulan, Love Sarah, A White, White Day, The Personal History of David Copperfield, The Book Sellers, and Bellbird are just a few of the high-quality films awaiting audiences.

As a celebration of the re-opening of Palace Cinemas, Connoisseur Choc-Tops will be sold at the ridiculously low price of $2.00 (June 25th – July 1st takeaway only) and 5 movie e-Tickets may be purchased for $40 (Movie Club Members only. Offer ends July 8th). Online bookings are already booming with absolutely no promotion so it’s evident that people are eager to return to the cinema. “It’s all happening, we feel really optimistic. It’s been a horrible three months, absolutely devastating that we all had to go through that. Our customers want to indulge and escape, and cinema provides that beautifully. People love the cinema experience and it’s an important mission for us to provide that to people. It ultimately gives us a great sense of fulfillment and meaning,” concluded Zeccola.

Palace Cinemas re-opening July 2nd. Tickets & Info:

Following is a list of alternative cinematic platforms. All venues must by law have COVID-19 management plans in place to avoid the spread of the virus:

Event Cinemas

Australia’s largest cinema network will commence a staggered re-opening on July 2nd with half-price adult tickets to Gold Class, Boutique, 4DX and V-Max. Available to Cinebuzz members only. Free to join. Choice of seating including premium recliners and daybeds at many sites. Tickets & Info:

Peugeot Mov’in Car Sydney

Want to go to the movies under the stars and enjoy a true drive-in experience? With popular and classic titles including Titanic, Mary Poppins, & The Joker come along to The Entertainment Quarter. $49.90 per 2 people in own car, $69.90 per 2 people with Peugeot car provided. Cheese platters and wine available. Extended thru July. Tickets & info: https: //

 Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

Experience an exquisite night out in a cinema palace from a bygone era. Opens July 9th. A great line up of films including Waves, Shirley and Hearts and Bones. The retro program includes 2001 A Space Odyssey (presented in 70MM) & Singing In The Rain. $8.00 tix available. Tickets & Info:

 The Fairfield Drive-In

For the budget-conscious, it’s worth a trip out west. Spend no more than $20 (plus booking fee) per car! Food and drink are available. Each Friday & Saturday night at Fairfield Showground. Book early as these screenings sell out quickly. Check online closer to date for films screening. Tickets & Info: https: //


United, Dendy, Golden Age & Hoyts cinemas have not currently announced opening dates, but are expected to re-open mid to late July. Check websites for details.