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Monday, October 19, 2020

Cineworld may close US and UK theatres after No Time to Die’s delay

Cineworld reportedly plans to write to UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying cinema has become “unviable” because studios are postponing blockbuster releases because of the coronavirus pandemic.

By: AP | London | October 5, 2020 11:11:19 am
Cineworld , Cineworld closing, Cineworld closing cinemasCineworld Group PLC owns 543 Regal cinemas in the U.S. and 128 Cineworld venues in the UK and Ireland.(Photo: Mike Egerton/PA via AP, file)

Cinema chain Cineworld said Sunday it is considering closing all its movie theatres in Britain and the United States, after the postponement of the new James Bond film left a big hole in schedules.

Cineworld Group PLC owns 543 Regal cinemas in the US and 128 Cineworld venues in the UK and Ireland.

It said it was “considering the temporary closure of our UK and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached.”

“Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”

The statement came after the Sunday Times reported that Cineworld’s UK and Ireland theatres will shut indefinitely in the coming weeks, putting up to 5,500 people out of work.

The newspaper and other outlets reported that Cineworld plans to write to UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying cinema has become “unviable” because studios are postponing blockbuster releases because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff said they had not been informed or consulted about closures.

“If these reports are true, then the first people Cineworld should be informing are their staff who will suffer as a result — not the Sunday newspapers,” said Philippa Childs, head of the entertainment workers’ union BECTU.

British movie theatres began to reopen in July, but Childs said “the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.”

Cinemas remain closed in New York and Los Angeles, two of North America’s biggest markets.

Producers said last week that the 25th James Bond thriller, No Time to Die, due to open in November, is being delayed until April 2021 because of the effect of the pandemic on theatrical business.

Other major studios have made similar decisions over the past few weeks. Universal has delayed Candyman to next year, and the Walt Disney Co. has postponed a handful of major movies to 2021, including Marvel’s Black Widow and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

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