Oct 5, 2020 - Economy

Regal Cinemas to temporarily close all 663 of its theaters in the U.S. and U.K.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

British movie exhibitor Cineworld, the parent company to Regal Cinemas, said on Monday that it would temporarily close all 663 of its movie theaters in the United States and the U.K.

Why it matters: Theater chains have struggled to survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Some analysts have argued that the pandemic could become the death knell to the theater industry.

Details: In a statement, the company blamed the ongoing delays of major movie releases by studios and the closure of theaters in New York and other major U.S. markets.

  • The closures will impact approximately 40,000 employees across the U.S.
  • Regal operates more than 536 theaters in 42 states, along with the District of Columbia and Guam.

Between the lines: Regal decided to close those locations after MGM announced it was pushing back the release date for the second time of the latest James Bond film to April 2021.

  • The theater chain had reopened in parts of the U.S. and Europe over the summer, but about 200 of its locations have been shut down since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • "This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S," Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a press statement.

The big picture: Theater chains, including Regal, have tried to lure consumers back with a joint industry set of safety protocols over the summer, but surveys show that consumers are still wary of visiting theaters until there's a vaccine.

  • Without being able to operate at full capacity, movie studios have been delaying the release of their films to theaters in fear that they may not make enough in ticket sales.

Worth noting: Greidinger did not specify when the U.S. and U.K. theaters might reopen, but the company is leaving about 100 locations open in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

  • He did not say what this meant for the 40,000 employees in the U.S. and 5,000 in the U.K.

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