The rules and issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and information changes consistently. Please take note of when our content was written and always go to the sources we’ve provided for the most current guidance.

Movie theatres are reopening under Phase 3 of the BC’s COVID-19 restart plan. You may feel that going to the movies isn’t the right decision for you at this time but if you are excited at the prospect of seeing a film at a theatre again, here’s some information to help you understand the experience.

Some of the basics:

  • Not all theatres are opening. Check with your local theatre to make sure it’s open to the public again.
  • Most of the box offices are closed which means that you must get your tickets beforehand – online is best.
  • Payment other than cash is encouraged.
  • Seating capacity is way less. Some theaters have cut their capacity by 75% for regular theatres and 50% for recliner seating. To understand the theatre seating, visit their website.
  • Right now, you aren’t likely to see new releases. Most theatres are showing recent popular films or classic favourites. Go online to find out what’s showing at your local theatre.

Before you go:

  • Buy your tickets online. Most theatres are requiring that you reserve your seats in advance. This is to ensure physical distancing to keep you safe.
  • Theatres are asking that you arrive no sooner than 15-20 minutes before your movie’s scheduled showtime. If you arrive earlier, you may be asked to stay outside until they are ready for you. This is to reduce the number of people milling about in common areas.
  • Double-check the showtimes, they may not be what you have come to expect and may be staggered.

At the theatre:

  • Many theatre chains have cut their concession options to just popcorn and drinks so manage your expectations in terms of movie snacks.
  • Toppings, straws, napkins, utensils are available upon request at the concession.
  • Amusement games will vary by location.

Being safe:

  • You are encouraged to wear a mask, but as of the writing of this post, theatres haven’t made them mandatory (nor have public health officials).
  • Many theatres have increased their cleaning schedules and are reducing and staggering showtimes. This helps ensure that fewer people are gathering all at once when entering and exiting the shows.
  • Theatre staff will be wearing personal protective equipment to keep you, and them, safe.

As always, if you feel sick at all, please stay home. To find out if a film is appropriate for your family, look up its rating and advisory on our website.

While we license movie theaters and classify the general release films you see in those theaters, we can’t offer advice on whether going to the theatre is right for you during this time – that’s a decision you have to make for yourself and your family. We hope that this information has helped you to make informed decisions. Please always do your research as information and recommendations may continue to change.

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Movie Ratings: what do they mean?
History of motion picture classification in BC

Where do we fit in in terms of COVID-19?

Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries, including the motion picture industry, and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. We also classify the general release movies you see in BC theatres. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at