Since March, Oxford's cinema scene, like much else, has struggled to find a way to work in a time of social distancing and Covid safety restrictions. But August sees the return of cinema, with many venues reopening in time for the release (fingers crossed) of Christopher Nolan’s latest, Tenet, on August 23rd.
Daily Info has the latest update for cinemas in Oxford and beyond, as well as virtual and real-life events for film buffs all over the county.
Remember: as of this weekend (8th August), face coverings will be mandatory in cinemas. For tips and information about masks, check out our blog on the subject.
The Vue reopens on August 7th with a smattering of recent releases (croc-tastic horror Black Water: Abyss, road rage thriller Unhinged, family films 100% Wolf and Dreambuilders) and a whole heap of iconic films worthy of a revisit (the likes of The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption and Bridesmaids are all back on screen). The cinema chain has introduced physically distanced seating, reduced touchpoints and staggered film times.
The first cinema to reopen in Oxford was the Phoenix Picturehouse, offering arthouse gems that have been missing for viewers lately. Parasite has made at a return to screens in a new black-and-white version, whilst new releases Proxima and Saint Frances take audiences into space and into the family home of a six year old respectively. The bar will remain closed for now, and the cinema has staggered its seating and added hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue.
Ultimate Picture Palace
Thanks to their hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, East Oxford’s own independent cinema’s future is more secure, as they plan to reopen on Friday 4th September. Daily Info’s own movie buff will be there to welcome back an Oxford institution.
Odeon George Street will be reopening on Tuesday 25th August, right in time to show Tenet (hopefully).
The Westgate cinema reopens on Monday 24th August, with a selection of indie dramas (Make Up, Clemency) and studio blockbusters (Onwards, Tenet).
The Abbey Cinema, Abingdon
Abingdon’s cinema is slowly reopening, with screenings being released for bookings. As they begin their reopening plan, you can hire the venue for private screenings, starting at £250.
Open air cinema
Having run the hugely popular month of drive-in cinema at Blenheim Palace, Luna Cinema returns both to this venue and Waddesdon Manor, with socially-distanced open-air screenings. Blenheim has the likes of Pretty Woman, Rocketman and The Greatest Showman, whilst Waddesdon offers Dirty Dancing and Joker for you to all enjoy during a summer's evening.
Outdoor Cinema at the Up in Arms
Dodo Pub are bringing back their open-air cinema screenings, this time at the Up in Arms. Over the next few weeks the likes of Oscar-winning musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, 90s teen rom com Clueless and the Coen Brothers’ cult comedy The Big Lebowski. And it all kicks off with a constant fixture of open-air cinema seasons, the musical that will never stop screening, The Greatest Showman.
Comedy Night at the Movies
Jericho Comedy continue to embrace open air and drive-in events, this time partnering with Vintage Open-Air Cinema for a night of classic comedy clips, jazz music and live stand-up, all in a fabulous art deco setting.
In lieu of its traditional London setting, Sundance will bring a trio of feature films (and eight shorts) to an online version of the festival. The three UK premieres are Uncle Frank, a Paul Bettany-starring road trip through 70s South Carolina, Luxor, a romantic drama nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s January edition of Sundance, and Boy State, a documentary exploring America’s youth and their relationship with politics. You can buy a pass for the whole weekend or individual tickets for the films.
Horror heaven comes to your laptop this August bank holiday as the annual festival goes online. Offering the best genre cinema coming our way over the next year, Frightfest has spent twenty years at the forefront of horror and 2020 is no different, even if it can’t be shared in a packed auditorium. Highlights this year include the heartbreaking black-and-white A Ghost Waits, water park-set slasher Aquaslash and French anthology Dark Stories, as well as Sky Sharks, where Nazi zombies ride flying great whites (I kid you not!). You can purchase passes for the whole weekend or for individual films, depending how much you want to dive into the spine-chilling fun.
London Film Festival
The BFI’s London Film Festival is returning in an entirely new format in 2020, mixing live and virtual elements to give people maximum opportunity to watch films. From 7th-18th October the festival will screen 50 feature films online, alongside free short films, talks and events. At the same time, there will be previews of around a dozen upcoming releases in venues across the UK. The line-up will be announced on 8th September, with tickets on sale soon thereafter.