Hundreds of Regal, Cineworld movie theatres to close

LONDON (AP) — In the latest blow to the beleaguered film industry, the second-largest movie theatre chain in the United States (US) is temporarily shuttering its locations tomorrow due to a lack of blockbusters on the calendar and major domestic markets like New York remaining closed.

Cineworld Group Plc said on Monday that it would close 536 Regal cinemas in the US and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse venues in the UK this week, affecting some 45,000 employees.

“This is not a decision we made lightly,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger.

In the past few days, the already decimated 2020 release calendar lost another big film in the James Bond No Time to Die. It is at least partly due to the fact that one of the country’s biggest markets, New York, has not committed to a plan or a date for reopening cinemas in the state.

Cineworld has high debts and is, like the wider industry, struggling with the effects of the pandemic. The absence of the biggest North American markets and a consistent, solid release schedule from Hollywood studios have been devastating to their business.

“We never argued the fact that we needed to be closed until we saw that similar activities to us started to open,” Greidinger said, citing indoor dining. “We cannot be in a situation where we lose more cash when we are open than we lose when we are closed.”

Last week, groups representing theatre owners, movie studios and directors issued a plea to US lawmakers to provide relief to ailing movie theatres.

Regal Edwards Grand Teton theatre in Idaho Falls. PHOTO: AP