Ster-Kinekor, the largest theatre chain in South Africa, has outlined how it will be re-opening under new lockdown rules allowing public movie screenings. The two big movies which will usher this in are Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, and the live action remake of Mulan.

As many as 31 Ster-Kinekor cinemas around the country will open up on 28th August. This will be followed by a further 21 on 18th September.

As expected things will not be as they were before with several changes coming to the local movie going experience to try and keep everyone safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.

This starts with booking your ticket and paying for snacks, as no exchange of money (even on card) will be allowed at the theatres themselves. Instead these must both be booked and paid for before arriving, either on the Ster-Kinekor site or app.

During booking a large amount of the seats will not be available for purchase to enforce social distancing. This – combined with more time between movies to allowing for sanitation – means significantly less movies will be showing every day, and there will be less chance for larger crowds.

When paying online you will need to check a box which contains the following alert:

“BEFORE YOU CONTINUE, YOU’LL NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR COVID-19 DECLARATION. I declare that neither myself nor family members have explained body aches/pains, fever, cough, nor shortness of breath/chest discomfort.”

Once actually at the cinema your temperature will be taken and a mask is a requirement throughout the visit, though it may be temporarily removed once seated to eat the food you purchased beforehand.

As for Ster-Kinekor staff they will also be there to keep things ticking along.

“All our staff will be screened before we open the cinemas each day, as well as at each shift. We will wear face masks and gloves where required and our staff have been trained on safe work practices to ensure safety for themselves and for our guests,” reads a press release sent to us.

With all the safety measures in place when can you start watching the aforementioned movies? Tenet is planned for a 28th August release so it will be the first big new movie on offer when the doors open. Mulan will be available on 11th September, a week before the remaining theatres open.

Both of these movies have had a complicated release schedule due to the pandemic. Tenet was delayed multiple times but will be released on 26th August overseas, save for the US which will get it on 3rd September. Mulan will be coming to Disney+ on 4th September as an optional purchase on top of the monthly fee for that service, as well as receiving a theatrical release in select countries on the same day.

Aside from these two movies a few others are available for pre-bookings on the Ster-Kinekor site. Tabaluga, Ava, Fatima and My Spy are listed, but none of them really measure up to those bigger titles from Nolan and Disney.

As of today 19th August, the official COVID-19 statistics from the government indicate 592 144 people infected with coronavirus, 485 468 recoveries, 106 676 active cases and 12 264 deaths. Only time will tell if the reduction of national lockdown, including theatres, will have an appreciable effect on those numbers.

Nu Metro, the country’s other theatre chain, has not made any official announcements about re-opening at the time of writing.