Movie with the gondola: Filipino cinema affords a pandemic escape to Venice

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© Reuters. People in gondolas watch a movie while watching social distancing amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a float-in cinema in the Grand Canal Mall of Venice, Taguig City, Metro Manila

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MANILA (Reuters) – Some moviegoers in the Philippine capital, fed up with lengthy COVID-19 restrictions, are opting for a taste of Venice floating in front of the screen in socially distant gondolas.

Gondoliers in striped uniforms steer and position each boat in an outside canal to watch full-length films. This is a rare opportunity to go to the movies after a nine month lockdown.

"Boating made it a unique experience," patron Violet Gatchalian told Reuters at the Venice Grand Canal-themed mall in Manila. "It's also one of the first theaters to reopen, so we wanted to give it a try."

Filipino cinemas have been closed since mid-March when President Rodrigo Duterte imposed one of the toughest and longest bans in the world. With more than 456,000 coronavirus infections and 8,875 COVID-19 deaths, the Philippines is the hardest hit country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

The government began gradually reopening the economy in June, but most non-essential businesses remain closed – in Manila, the gondola cinema and a drive-through theater are the only movie locations.

Gondola cinema-goers can sit in pairs on the same boat, with up to 10 guests per show and boats that are meters apart. Entry is 500 pesos ($ 10), roughly the minimum daily wage in the capital.

The float-in cinema is supposed to lift the mood of the guests and help the employees of the film industry, said Graham (NYSE 🙂 Coates, head of Megaworld (OTC 🙂 Lifestyle Malls.

Guests bring their own headphones and listen to audio broadcasts at a radio frequency that is only available on board the gondolas.

Open air cinemas are experiencing a revival in many parts of the world as the leisure industry figures out how to deal with the pressures of the pandemic.

($ 1 = 48.07 Philippine Pesos)

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