Forget Drive-Ins: Paris Hosts Floating Movie Theater With Socially Distant Boats on Seine River

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(TMU) – Earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic began sinking its hooks into the world, drive-in movie theaters were a huge topic of surging interest, with many people clamoring for a safe and socially-distanced outlet for entertainment outside the home.

The idea of reviving the old past-time caught on so well that drive-in theaters popped up across the U.S., with many restaurants turning their parking lots into drive-in cinemas.

And now, with summer approaching, there may be no better idea than taking a nice swim to watch your favorite films.

Next week, the waters of the Seine river in Paris, France, will host an innovative floating movie theater where people can enjoy films alongside their families from socially distant boats.

Dubbed the “Cinéma sur l’Eau” (cinema on the water) the spectacular event will make its debut on July 18 to celebrate the beginning of Paris Plages, an annual event organized by the city that creates temporary beaches along the Seine and Bassin de Villette every summer.

The free screening will begin at 7:30pm next Saturday as 38 boats, each holding four to six people, will disembark for the event. Each boat will be exclusive to families and closed to strangers in order to comply with physical distancing guidelines, while an additional 150 people will watch from deck chairs that will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Broadway World.

Paris residents will also have an opportunity to win seats on the boats through July 15 through an online raffle.

Viewers will be treated to ”Le Grand Bain” (Sink or Swim), a 2018 comedy about a group of men who form a synchronized swimming team. Audiences will also have a chance to watch A Corona Story, a short film about the coronavirus pandemic that won a contest organized by movie theater chain Mk2, which also organized the event alongside ice cream company Häagen-Daz.

“Le Cinéma sur l’Eau” is being held to celebrate the recent reopening of French movie theaters after a prolonged lockdown. Last month, the theaters were able to reopen at 50 percent capacity after being shut down for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I only have one word – finally!” Emmanuel Delesse, a director of cinema chain UGC, told AFP after the theaters opened in late June.

Paris cinema  5 Caumartin opened with “Les Parfums” (The Perfumes), a French comedy about a prima donna perfume “nose” who devises a number of new fragrances.

“Watching series on Netflix is one thing, but the cinema is something else,” said the film’s star Emmanuelle Devos.

As is the case in Hollywood, film studios in France have delayed releasing some of their most high-profile films while film production crews have also faced setbacks in tackling new projects.

However, French cinephiles are expected to flock to theaters to watch some of the classics of cinéma français.

“France is at a real advantage in the world for this reopening because, [of France’s] 6,000 screens, 40 percent of them are art houses, which means that French people are more than happy to pay for, quote unquote, old films,” said FRANCE 24 culture editor Lisa Nesselson.