Cineworld has confirmed that it is “temporarily” closing all of its cinemas in the UK and US.
Speculation about the immediate future of the cinema chain had been rife over the weekend, with the company tweeting yesterday (October 4) that “a final decision has not yet been reached” on whether to continue operating.
In an announcement to the City this morning (October 5), Cineworld confirmed that it had now decided to temporarily suspend its operations — putting 45,000 jobs, including 5,500 in the UK, at risk.
“Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the US and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from Thursday 8 October 2020,” the statement reads, without adding a possible reopening date.
“As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films. In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – 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.”
The decision comes after the latest blow for the cinema industry was delivered last week by the news that the forthcoming James Bond film, No Time To Die, had had its release date delayed again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ninth instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise has also been pushed back to May 28, 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
Cineworld’s chief executive Mooky Greidinger said in a statement that the decision to shut their cinemas was not “made lightly”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Last week dozens of prominent filmmakers signed an open letter warning US Congress that physical cinemas face extinction as a result of the pandemic.