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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Any hope that blockbuster hits would return to the big screen this year have been shattered in the past week.

Driving the news: Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, on Monday said it would be temporarily closing all of its 663 theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. In doing so, it cited that movie studios weren't sending enough of its biggest movies to theaters to lure consumers. More movie delays announced Monday showcase their point.

Details: Warner Bros. on Monday said that its highly-anticipated film "Dune" would now be delayed in its theatrical debut until 2021.

  • Later that night, it was reported that Warner Bros. would push the theatrical release date for "The Batman," from 2021 to 2022, so that the release date would not coincide with the new release date for "Dune."
  • It also said it would delay other movies like "Flash," and "Shazam 2."
  • Regal's notice came three days after MGM announced it was pushing back the release date for the second time of the latest James Bond film to April 2021.

Be smart: These delays weren't shocking, considering the fact that the studio had already pushed back hits like "Wonder Woman 1984" after "Tenet's" shaky debut.

  • Warner Bros. tested a theatrical debut with its hit film "Tenet" over Labor Day and the results weren't good. It grossed less than $50 million in the U.S. since its debut, less than a quarter of what it's been able to pull in internationally and a tiny fraction of what analysts originally thought it would bring in pre-pandemic.

The big picture: The movie industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Analysts have said that the pandemic could put entire theater chains out of business.

  • Theater chains in August rolled out a joint set of industry-wide safety protocols, but surveys show that until there's a widely-available vaccines, some consumers are nervous about returning to theaters. In response to lackluster attendance, movie studios have delayed the release of their biggest hits.

Bottom line: The movie industry likely won't even begin to begin to bounce back until 2021, when big blockbusters are back on the release schedule. Even then it's likely to face continued closures and delays.

Go deeper

Congress considers relief for small theaters

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Congressional aides tell Axios that the stimulus proposal put forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which already has President Trump's seal of approval, would provide $15 billion in grants to independent performance venues and movie theaters.

Yes, but: The relief would only be available to companies with fewer than 500 full-time employees, about 60% of the movie theaters in the U.S.

50 mins ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.