As major studios continue to delay their scheduled releases for their titles, movie theater chains find it harder and harder to attract more moviegoers. On Monday, Cineworld said it will shut over 600 of its theaters in both the US and the UK this week. 

Closing Once More

Cineworld Group announced that it will close 536 US Regal theaters and 127 UK Cineworld and Picturehouse moviehouses starting on Thursday. However, the company did not mention when the locations will reopen. Also, the shutdowns will come a few months after theater chains resumed operation. Since March, theater chains faced extended closures when the coronavirus pandemic happened.

Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, the second largest theater chain in the country, announced that it would temporarily close its 663 theaters in the United States and Britain this week.

Posted by The New York Times on Monday, October 5, 2020

In a CNBC article, Cineworld’s chief executive Mooky Greidinger blamed the decision on the lack of blockbuster titles following a series of delays from major studios. He compared the theater chain to “a grocery shop” without any food to sell.

The shutdown of its cinemas could take a month or two. “But at the end of the day, we must have a clear lineup of movies before we reopen.”

Release Dates Reshuffle and Bleak Ticket Sales

The announcement from Cineworld comes days after Universal delayed for the second time the latest James Bond film. Originally for an April 10 release, but moved back to November 25 when the health crisis struck. Now, “No Time to Die,” the 25th in the Bond franchise, will hit theaters next year. The updated release date is April 2, 2021.

Meanwhile, last month, Disney also pushed back the next picture in its multi-billion Marvel franchise. The House of Mouse postponed the release of “Black Widow” from November 6 to May next year. Aside from delays, Disney also opted to release its high-budget live-action adaptation of “Mulan” on its streaming service. It further lessened the titles that theater chains can hope to revive ticket sales.

Although, some major movies pursued a theatrical release. However, Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” one of Hollywood’s bigger bets to a blockbuster, only made $30 million domestic ticket sales in two weeks. It did better outside the US, but it seems American moviegoers remain reluctant to return to theaters.

Theater Chain Closures

The planned closure of Cineworld theaters will affect some 45,000 workers. In a CNN Business report, the announcement surprised many of the theater chain’s employees. A group of Cineworld staff in the UK even tweeted that the company did not consult with them.

Meanwhile, Greidinger said “Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time.”

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