North America’s Top Cinema Chains Forge Ahead Despite Regal Closures

© Mathieu Prat

Regal’s decision to temporarily suspend operations at all its U.S. locations on October 8 sent shockwaves across the exhibition industry, prompting similar concerns that other top circuits would follow suit.

Boxoffice Pro can confirm, however, that other top circuits in the North American market (U.S. and Canada) will continue with their existing reopening plans despite Regal’s closures in the United States.

As of October 6, representatives from AMC Theatres, Cinemark, Cineplex, Marcus Theatres, Malco Theatres, and Showcase Cinemas have confirmed they will be making no major changes to their reopening plans following Regal’s announcement.

AMC, the largest circuit in the world and the leading player in North America, is keeping its current theaters open and staying the course with its existing reopening plans. Over 80 percent of AMC locations are open in the United States to date, with additional sites set to open pending government authorization. All AMC locations in the Middle East are open, as well as over 90 percent of Odeon locations throughout Europe—though some of those sites will be operating under decreased hours.

“Some of our best partners like Disney, with its much anticipated Soul, and Universal with The Croods: A New Age, have new movies scheduled for theatrical release over the next month and a half. Warner Bros.’ Tenet has been stimulating moviegoers and is still leading the box office. And this weekend, The War with Grandpa, a new movie title starring the legendary Robert De Niro will be prominent all across the U.S. on the big screens of AMC,” said Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, in a statement. 

Aron added, “Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theatres when others may feel the need to close. We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed. This is because AMC will share in premium revenues coming from their early availability in the home.” 

Aron concluded, “We take great comfort in knowing that literally millions of moviegoers have already visited our theatres. They have done so in part because of our AMC Safe & Clean protocols, developed in consultation with Clorox and faculty of the Harvard University School of Public Health. Our guests are telling us that our theatres have never been cleaner, and that they recognize the great effort AMC is making to keep them healthy and safe.” 

Cinemark, the third-largest circuit in North America, released a similar statement. A statement provided by the Texas-based chain reads, “Cinemark’s reopening plan was designed with multiple contingencies in place to ensure we are able to be nimble and react as needed to this ever-changing environment. We do not currently have plans to close our U.S. theaters and are continuing to align with demand, including reducing operating hours and days while we await new studio content to encourage theatrical moviegoing. Approximately 80 percent of our circuit is open, and we have consistently received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with 97 percent of guests expressing satisfaction with Cinemark protecting their health and safety. We will continue to open theatres as governmental restrictions allow and look forward to welcoming even more moviegoers to enjoy this year’s newest films, our Comeback Classics and Private Watch Parties.”

Other major circuits, such as Marcus and Malco Theatres, are taking a case-by-case approach when it comes to individual locations. On October 2, for example, Marcus took the decision to close 17 of its 72 reopened locations, citing attendance issues as the principal factor informing the move. The circuit expects to bring the affected locations back online once demand for new titles returns to the market.

Regal Cinemas, the second-largest exhibition circuit in North America, is the U.S. subsidiary of its corporate parent, U.K.-based Cineworld, the second-largest multi-national network of cinemas around the world. Regal attributed its decision to suspend operations to persistent uncertainty around release dates from major studio titles and a lack of reopening guidance by the state of New York. The move will affect approximately 40,000 Regal employees in the United States.

© Mathieu Prat