Coronavirus

Lights Go Dark In UK, US For Cineworld And Its Regal Cinemas

Cineworld is reportedly closing its U.K. and U.S. movie theaters this week. Pandemic fears, lockdowns and the canceled release dates of major box-office draws have pushed the world’s second-biggest movie chain to shut out the lights for now.

The icing on the cake was the rescheduling of the James Bond thriller “No Time To Die,” Originally, the movie had been scheduled for a November release, which then got moved to April. Now it’s been bumped to 2021.

Theater operators saw “No Time” as a way to make up for all the lost ticket sales due to the pandemic. With the many Bond fans worldwide, the film was seen as a sure-fire box-office win.

Now, there still are a handful of blockbusters — like “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Dune,” and Pixar’s “Soul” — officially still on the calendar for later this year. But the situation for movie theater owners is grim. They could be postponed, too.

Meanwhile, Disney has already demonstrated with “Mulan” that it can put out a movie on its streaming platform, Disney+, and rake in blockbuster sales.

Phil Clapp, CEO of the U.K. Cinema Association, said the Cineworld closure mirrors the challenges faced by the movie theater industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I think at the moment, without any major titles between now and the end of the year, there are few other options for many venues,” he said, according to the report. “Cinema is a customer business and when customers can’t be persuaded to come back because there aren’t the film titles there, the options you have to continue operating are very limited.”

Cineworld’s U.S. subsidiary, Regal Cinemas, will shutter its 536 theaters. As many as 45,000 workers will wind up on the unemployment rolls, Reuters reported today.

Job losses include not only those Cineworld directly employs, but also the thousands of ancillary staff — including cleaners and security. Cineworld, in fact, is carrying heavy debt due in part to its acquisition of Regal in 2018. The company said it was looking at all ways of raising additional funding, according to Reuters.

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