How to optimise your social-distance seating

Every seat counts! After a long period of inactivity and content scarcity, allow more moviegoers to enjoy future blockbusters safely by optimising your social-distance seating strategy.

Blockbusters are hitting the big screen again soon, and a lot of eyes are resting on seeing how new original content makes a splash in cinemas again.

Every region has its own health and safety restrictions in place, making for a very different moviegoing experience. While it means a “full house” might look different from what we’re used to, there are ways to optimise your seating for both safety and capacity.

Depending on where in the world you are, most cinemas need to ensure a one-to-two metre distance is maintained between groups. In auditoriums, this translates to the number of seats left between groups of moviegoers. You may also have attendance limits or regulations around the maximum number of people indoors per square metre. These restrictions—alongside different site concepts and seat sizes—add to the complexity of finding the right solution.

We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes to adapt our technology to find these solutions. As a result, we’ve developed a revolutionary dynamic seating solution that can match even the most complex overlapping restrictions and operating standards.

Take your pick from a wide range of options available to automatically force gaps between each booking made both at POS and through remote sales channels:

Lateral seat gaps

We currently support the configuration of automatically blocking one, two, three, and four seats laterally around each booking. You can configure this at a site level to match your requirements, your physical seat sizes, and the types of services you provide at each location.

Spaces in-front and behind

In the same way as lateral spacing, Vista software can automatically block the seats immediately behind and in front of a group. If necessary, you can even adjust this rule to enforce diagonal spacing gaps as well.

The middle aisle

Depending on the size of your aisles, they may not be wide enough to meet your location regulations. Don’t worry! If that’s the case, social-distance seats can cross the middle aisle and block out seats on the other side to account for the distance needed.

Optimised occupancy

It’s been a long wait for new blockbusters to drop, so optimise your seating layout to entertain the maximum capacity of moviegoers without sacrificing health and safety. Limit selections that would create unnecessary seat wastage, helping your moviegoers choose the optimal seats without requiring anything more of them.

Maximum seating capacity

If local authorities require an attendance limit, changes can be easily applied across all your screens, or at an individual screen level. When a capacity is set, that becomes the total number of seats available for sale for a screening, and once the limit is reached, the session appears as sold out.

Building moviegoer confidence

In the latest social-distance seating release, we inspected the moviegoer experience carefully, looking for ways to help your cinema reinforce people’s confidence in the cinema as a safe space for entertainment. We realised that we need to better illustrate the health and safety measures in place.

We’re now clearly displaying the social-distance seats during the reservation process, making it easy to tell what’s available, what’s occupied, and what’s unavailable in order to create a gap. These seats—which can’t be booked because they’re part of the social-distance space around an existing booking—will have a different colour to vacant, occupied, or selected seats.

We make sure that the experience is consistent across all your sales channels—even third parties like aggregators—which will abide by the same seating arrangements and configuration as your POS, mobile app, website, and kiosk.

We're excited to welcome moviegoers back to the cinema with you!


For additional information about the implementation of these changes in your database, browse the HowTo Guide for a summary of all Dynamic Social-Distance Seating capabilities.

Curious about our Cinema Reopening Kit?

Social-Distance Seating is a part of the Cinema Reopening Kit. See how Vista's helping cinemas to reopen safely.

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