There will be no popcorn movies in France for a while – at least not in theaters – due to a rapid surge in the Omicron variant.
Beginning Monday, the country will put a three-week halt on the consumption of the popular snack in cinemas in a ban that will apply to all eating and drinking.
The measures will apply to theaters, sports venues and public transportation.
Cinema owners, who hoped to lure back people who have been watching movies at home during the pandemic, will take a hit by the closed concession stands.
Movie theaters in France sold 96 million tickets in the eight months they have been reopened in 2021, a jump of 47 percent compared to last year — but ticket sales are still down 55 percent compared to 2019, according to the National Center for Film and Moving Images.
Benoit Ciné Distribution, which supplies the snacks to almost three-quarters of France’s cinemas, had expected good sales with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Matrix Resurrections” drawing crowds.
“It’s like being told to apply the emergency brake to the high-speed train,” Vincent Meyer, a director at Benoit, told The Associated Press.
Michel Enten, manager of the Le Fontenelle cinema in the town of Marly-le-Roi west of Paris, said he expects the ban to hit larger cinemas particularly hard, though it may even help lure back fans to smaller theaters like his.
“There are lots of people who hate hearing the sounds of popcorn in the auditoriums,” said Enten, who lost about half of his clientele during the pandemic.
“Perhaps we will win over new movie fans, people who were watching Netflix and are saying to themselves, ‘Now there’s no more popcorn, let’s run to the cinema,’” he said.
Some cinemagoers struggled to understand why they won’t be able to chow down on buttery popcorn and other snacks while restaurants are still allowed to serve food and drinks.
“It’s going to be strange to just go to the cinema and do without all these little moments,” Vincent Bourdais said as he lined up in Marly-le-Roi to see “Spiderman.”
“Often, when one imagines the cinema, one thinks of the auditorium, the beautiful posters, the popcorn, the smells,” he added.
With Post wires