Cineworld, the world’s second-largest exhibition chain and corporate parent of Regal Cinemas, will be temporarily suspending operations across its U.K. and U.S. circuits beginning on October 8. The decision will shutter 536 Regal locations in the U.S. and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse locations in the U.K, affecting approximately 45 thousand employees––most of them in the United States.
“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,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. “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 will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets 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.”
The company cites ongoing delays for major studio releases (most recently, No Time to Die was shifted from November to next April) along with continued government-imposed closures in key markets in the United States––including New York. Without a reopening timeframe in one of the country’s largest markets, Cineworld argues studios have been reticent to introduce major titles into the market––causing a scarcity of content in the initial reopening phase.
“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,” added Greidinger. “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.”
As Covid-19 has plunged the theatrical exhibition sector into economic uncertainty, Cineworld is currently assessing several different options in order to raise additional liquidity.