Cineworld says “final decision” not yet reached about UK and US cinema closures

The cinema chain is considering temporary closures as the industry struggles with the impact of COVID-19.

Cineworld cinema during COVID-19 pandemic

The Cineworld cinema chain has confirmed the news that it is considering closing its UK and US cinemas, but said a “final decision has not yet been reached”.

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The Sunday Times reported that Cineworld intended to write to UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP, declaring that the industry had become “unviable” due to a lack of major releases.

The industry’s desperately-needed James Bond movie No Time To Die was the latest blockbuster to be moved from this year into 2021. It was due to open in November, but has been rescheduled for April.

Cineworld tweeted yesterday: “We can confirm we are 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’ll update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”

Deadline reported that the US branch of the business, which operates as Regal Cinemas, will most likely close 65 of the 340-400 it reopened a month ago.

The same source reported that Cineworld would close down 128 of its UK and Ireland cinemas as well next week, representing the first big casualty in the industry since cinemas began to reopen in late summer.

It’s not known how long the closure would last, if it happens.

The Cineworld closure in the UK could affect 5,500 jobs.

The company reported a $1.6 billion (£1.24 billion) loss for the first six months of the year, as the impact of the COVID-19-enforced cinema shutdown took its toll.

In the US, Regal is the number two national chain with 7,155 screens in 543 theatres across 42 states. They closed in mid-March due to the pandemic, and reopened where they could just prior to the Warner Bros release of Tenet in early September.

Tenet has had a disappointing box office take in the US – just over $45 million – although it has reached $307 million (£237 million) globally.

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Cineworld said ominously in its recent six-monthly financial report in the US: “There can be no certainty as to the future impact of COVID-19 on the Group. If Governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity. We have highlighted the potential impact this could have on the Group within our going concern statement in this document.”