Published: 09:16, 07 May 2021
| Updated: 10:47, 07 May 2021
With under two weeks to go until the curtains are allowed to come up on big screens across the country, cinema bosses are eager to hit the ground running.
But with a shortage of blockbusters to welcome back viewers it's feared the expected recovery may be slow – and one cinema has turned to the beautiful game for help.
To date the only Big Three picture house offering movie-starved crowds a glimpse of what they can expect is Vue.
Its Westwood Cross theatre in Thanet will reopen on May 17 with a flurry of films to get stuck in to from day one.
Peter Rabbit 2 starring the voices of James Corden and Margot Robbie is the first big release.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw is another new release out in time for reopening which tells the latest chapter in the Saw horror series.
Oscar-nominated Black Panthers biopic Judas and the Black Messiah, which stars Daniel Kaluuya, will also be shown - but it has been available to rent on Amazon Prime for weeks.
If you're looking for an old school monster fight to break the monotony of daily life then Godzilla vs. Kong, which again has been available to rent for a while, might be for you.
The chain has bulked out its offering with classics including Lord of the Rings and Taxi Driver.
And they've turned to one of sports greatest contests for yet more content, broadcasting both the Champions League (May 29) and Europa League (May 26) finals to scores of fans.
With Manchester City and Chelsea going head-to-head for the champions of Europe title after both were involved in the real-life drama of the European Super League breakaway, that match could well be the big draw of the summer.
Once winners and twice finalists Chelsea swept aside Real Madrid last night and will travel to Istanbul to face a league leading City who will be playing their first Champions League final after knocking out Paris Saint-Germain.
Meanwhile in the second tier contest two other members of the derided ESL, Manchester United and Arsenal, faced Roma and Villeréal respectively last night for a chance to face-off in Gdańsk.
The prospect of two all-English finals came crashing down, though, as Arsenal fell to their Spanish opponents.
Guy Ritchie's latest offering Wrath of Man (June 25) and a Space Jam follow up (July 16) are brief oases in a somewhat barren summer schedule before James Bond finally returns on September 30 with No Time To Die, by which point it is hoped footfall will be getting back to normal.
Marvel’s Black Widow, Top Gun: Maverick and Fast & The Furious 9 offer further opportunities to pull in the punters.
If you're looking for something slightly cosier Canterbury's Gulbenkian will be open with all the Oscar-nominated films, including Mank and Minari, on over summer.
Cineworld, which is opening all its Kent screens on May 17 but is yet to release a list of showings, anticipates admissions reaching 60% of 2019 levels this month and rising to 90% by the end of the year.
Odeon, the UK's biggest cinema which is also unlocking the doors of its Kent theatres on May 17, is offering its Limitless subscription service for the special price of £9.99 until the end of September in a bid to rebuild its fan base.
Cineworld has suspended its unlimited card while it makes "exciting changes", while Vue does not offer such a service.
Bluewater's Showcase is, like Vue, offering a list of showings on its website.
On top of Vue's listings it will show Oscar-winning Sound of Metal and Nomadland, both of which have been available on streaming channels Amazon Prime and Disney Plus respectively.
There are fears such streaming giants may gobble up traditional cinemas, with so many getting used to watching big-budget films from the comfort of their own homes over the past 12 months.
Under the current film release model, new movies opening in the US also stream exclusively on the American service HBO Max for 31 days.
But WarnerMedia has now struck a deal with Cineworld to release films as cinema-only beginning in 2022, with a block on them being released on demand for at least a month.
In a statement, Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said: "This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100 year relationship with Warner Bros."
Other potential big hitters are period drama Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet, (May 17 but available to rent online) which follows the real-life tale of self-taught palaeontologist and fossilist Mary Anning.
Audiences will finally get a chance to see Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning turn in The Father from June 11. Sir Anthony, starring opposite Olivia Colman, plays a man slipping into dementia.
June should also bring A Quiet Place II, the follow up to John Krasinski’s directorial debut, about a family forced to live in silence to hide from monsters, with Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy set to join Emily Blunt in the cast.
Disney will start to unleash some of its most anticipated releases from May 28, when Cruella comes to cinemas and Disney+ (for an additional fee with Premier Access).
Musical fans should be dancing in the streets in June with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical In The Heights finally arrives in cinemas starring Anthony Ramos, who was also part of the original Broadway cast.
Disney will deploy the same strategy for Black Widow as it did for Cruella, as Scarlett Johansson’s superhero finally gets a standalone film. The film will launch in cinemas on July 9.
July will also mark the arrival of Fast And Furious 9. Plot details are being kept under wraps but it has been revealed WWE star John Cena will play Vin Diesel’s on-screen brother and arch nemesis.
Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel 35 years in the making, roars into cinemas on July 20.
Tom Cruise is back in the pilot’s seat as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Val Kilmer picks up his role as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, while Jon Hamm, Miles Teller and Glen Powell join the cast.
Surviving members of the Suicide Squad reconvene in August, with Margot Robbie back as Harley Quinn and Idris Elba, Peter Capaldi and Pete Davidson joining the gang, before Marvel film Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings and Respect, the Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson as the late, great singer, arrive in September.
The King’s Man, a prequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service and 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, starring Ralph Fiennes, will arrive in December and another pre-Christmas treat will be Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story, starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria, due to hit cinemas on December 10.