Cineworld is set to temporarily close all of its UK venues following a dramatic decline in movie-going amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.
The Sunday Times states that the international cinema chain is currently writing to UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP, declaring that the industry has become "unviable" due to a lack of major releases.
The move comes following the disappointing financial performance of Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which landed in British cinemas in late August but made a fraction of initial expectations.
With film studios unwilling to release their mega-budget projects in such a hostile environment, cinemas have suffered the consequences as business has dwindled to historic lows.
Cineworld reported a $1.6 billion loss for the first six months of the year, as the vast majority of its venues were inactive during coronavirus-induced lockdowns around the world.
As the UK's largest cinema chain, Cineworld owns 128 sites across the UK and Ireland, employing 5,500 staff members who may be asked to accept redundancy, with a possibility of returning to the company next year if business resumes.
In response to The Sunday Times report, Cineworld Action Group, comprised by a number of the company's UK employees, published a tweet claiming there has been "no consultation with staff whatsoever" regarding the closures.
Variety reports that Cineworld is making similar plans in the US, where it operates 543 venues under the Regal Cinemas branding, all of which are set to be temporarily shuttered.
There is currently no confirmed date for when these cinemas could reopen, with one possibility being that they won't return until sometime into 2021.