U.K.-based Cineworld, the world’s second-largest movie theater owner, is temporarily suspending operation of all U.S. and U.K. theaters, starting October 8.
That will affect 536 Regal cinemas in the U.S., 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas in the U.K., and some 45,000 employees.
Cineworld hopes to be able to reopen next year, and is telling staff it hopes they will rejoin the company at that time, reported BBC.com.
"As major U.S. markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films," the company said in a statement. "In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and the U.K. — the company’s primary markets — with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of COVID-19."
"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 CEO Mooky Greidinger.
Cineworld’s decision came after MGM’s announcement on October 2 that it would delay the release of the latest James Bond flick, “No Time to Die,” until April 2, 2021 due to the continued theater closures or limited seating practices in many major markets around the world. The movie’s release had already been delayed from April to November 20 of this year.
The Bond film’s delay means that there will be no releases of major movies for adult audiences until the end of this year, when Warner Bros. plans to release the “Dune” remake and DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman 1984,” notes Bloomberg.
Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” the only big movie released in the U.S. since the pandemic’s start in March, pulled a small audience here, in part due to the continued closure of theaters in some big markets, including Los Angeles and New York, and in part due to theater chains’ need to limit ticket sales for social-distancing purposes, .
As of September 20, “Tenet” had hit the $250 million mark globally, but its North American grosses were just $36.1 million.
As of Labor Day, about 70% of U.S. cinemas were estimated to have re-opened, with social-distance seating.