A quarter of Vue cinemas in the UK are set to close for three days a week as the coronavirus continues to hit the film industry.
21 of the chain’s 87 cinemas across the country will now open from Friday to Monday only in an attempt to reduce costs incurred by delays to high-profile films.
Vue are the latest UK cinema chain to announce drastic changes to its operations. With Odeon also set to operate a weekend-only model at a quarter of its venues, last week Cineworld confirmed it will temporarily suspend its operations in UK and US cinemas, putting 45,000 jobs – including 5,500 in the UK – at risk.
In a statement announcing its new plan, Vue said it was making the decision to ensure they were “financially well placed” to deal with a continually changing situation regarding the COVID-19 crisis in the UK.
“We remain committed to ensuring that Vue has a long-term future, to protecting the livelihoods of our staff and keeping our doors open to ensure our cinemas continue to serve the communities they operate in,” the statement said.
“We came into this pandemic in a very strong position after a record 2019 and a record start to 2020, and we are looking forward to returning to full steam as soon as Hollywood studios start releasing the content which audiences are clamouring for.”
One of the major reasons behind the closure and part-closure of UK cinema chains is the delay to many high-profile movies, such as new James Bond film No Time To Die, which was officially delayed from this November to April 2021 earlier this month.
Vue chief executive Tim Richards said in a statement earlier this week the delay to the Bond film had come as a surprise, and that for the chain and others like them to survive, “we just need movies”.
“We reopened on the basis that we were going to be getting movies that then didn’t arrive. There are a lot of players that do not have the size and scale Vue does that will not survive,” he said.
Speaking to NME last week, cinema staff across the UK said that “the government and studios have left us to rot” after more redundancies and closures were announced.
A staff member at one of London’s Picturehouse branches, set to close until further notice, said the cancellation of Bond was “the final nail in the coffin” for them, adding: “I’m extremely disappointed in [007 studio] MGM as No Time To Die could have saved the cinema industry. It’s what we were all holding out for. They could’ve been known as the studio that saved cinemas as opposed to the studio that condemned them.”