Cineworld, the world’s second-largest movie cinema chain, confirmed on Monday that it will be temporarily closing its 536 Regal theatres in the US and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK as of Thursday, October 8, 2020. Cineworld said its decision will affect 45,000 workers.
The move comes after MGM and Universal Pictures decided to push back James Bond movie No Time to Die from this November to April of 2021. That has left animated films Soul and The Croods: A New Age as the only big November theatrical releases.
The major theatrical releases left in December include Free Guy (December 11), Coming 2 America (December 18), Death on the Nile (December 18), Dune (December 18), and Wonder Woman 1984 (December 25).
“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S.– from putting in place robust health and safety measures at our theatres to joining our industry in making a collective commitment to the CinemaSafe protocols to reaching out to state and local officials to educate them on these initiatives,” said Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld.
“We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was.”
Cineworld is mainly blaming the continued closure of markets such as New York. “Without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release its pipeline of new films,” the company said.
“In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and U.K. — the company’s primary markets — with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theaters.”
Greidinger added: “Despite our work, positive feedback from our customers and the fact that there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas, we have not been given a route to reopen in New York, although other indoor activities – like indoor dining, bowling and casinos were already allowed.
“The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us. As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”
Regal says it “will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”
In a statement to its many employees, Cineworld said the “decision was made only after doing everything in our power to support a safe and successful reopening… Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, New York will not allow us to open leading to an increasingly empty film calendar for this fall.”
Regal told its employees that it remains committed to the theatrical experience for them and their guests. While they did not give a date for when they might reopen, they said it will be determined “when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and as a result, studios bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”
In their message, they added: “It is our sincere hope that when we do return that you will be at our side. However, we do understand the strain this pandemic has created for you and your loved ones and wish you the best whatever your decision.”