Cineworld has confirmed that it is closing 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from Thursday as coronavirus continues to ravage the exhibition market.
In an update on Monday, Cineworld Group said 45,000 employees will be affected by the closure, which it said follows the reluctance on the part of the studios to “release their pipeline of new films” at a time when many theatres are unable to welcome customers.
Major releases including James Bond’s No Time To Die have been delayed more than once, while other features have moved online, such as Disney’s Mulan and Tom Hanks’ Greyhound.
Cineworld, which first signaled the suspension of its operations over the weekend, said its New York operations had been hit particularly hard, with theatres remaining closed and there being little light at the end of the tunnel. Cineworld did not indicate when it plans to reopen.
The company said it would continue to monitor the situation and is awaiting “more concrete guidance” on reopenings. It added that it is “assessing several sources of additional liquidity and all liquidity raising options are being considered” as it wrangles with $8.2BN in debt.
Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said: “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.”
As my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro reported, Cineworld is the first big circuit casualty since cinemas have reopened during the pandemic. It remains to be seen how long the closure is, and according to studio sources, it’s just bad for overall moviegoing consumer confidence as it sends mixed signals on theatre openings.
In the U.S., Regal is the second largest chain with 536 theaters. They closed in mid-March due to the pandemic, and reopened where they could just prior to Warner Bros.’ release of Tenet. One of Regal’s reopened Orange County highlights is the Irvine Spectrum, newly refurbished.