The rumors have proven true, and Cineworld will be temporarily closing all of its U.K. locations along with its U.S. Regal Cinemas.
As the exhibition side of the film industry continues to struggle, it seems that some companies are going to have to get creative. Following rumors that arrived over the weekend, the Cineworld has confirmed it will be closing all of its locations, but it has not given a potential timeline as to when they may reopen.
In a statement issued by Cineworld, the company said, “In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters in the U.K. from Thursday, 8 October 2020.”
“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 theaters 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 re-openings 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,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said.
“We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theaters 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 knock-on effect
Following the announcement, the U.K.-based Odeon chain has announced that it will be moving to a weekend-only schedule for the time being at some of its locations. Meanwhile, AMC, the largest chain in the U.S., saw its stock drop by 10% in Monday morning stock trading.
It’s obvious at this juncture that it will be quite some time before the film industry returns to anything remotely resembling the levels it saw in 2019.
Right now, every aspect of this is in a chicken-and-the-egg style scenario: Consumers are nervous to return to theaters. Mandates are keeping restrictions on how many people can attend a screening. This makes studios nervous to release films. No new product makes people even less likely to go to the theater.
There is just no good place to jump on the merry-go-round at the moment as it continues to spin.
We fully expect more movies, if not all, to move out of 2020 to future dates. And we expect more theaters to temporarily close in due course.