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Cinemas reopen in England but streaming threatens recovery

Up to 150 expected to begin screening films before Christmas after Covid-enforced closures

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The first of more than 150 cinemas will reopen in England this weekend in a final attempt to cash in on festive moviegoing cheer, but plans by Warner Bros to stream new films including Dune and the next Matrix sequel at the same time as theatre premieres next year threatens to undermine a post-Covid box office revival.

Hollywood studios have seized on theatre closures during the pandemic to experiment with digital releases, infuriating theatre owners who rely on the once sacrosanct model of big screen exclusivity for months on end to make their finances work.

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