All 11 NJ Regal cinemas could close — entire chain at risk
Cinema chain Cineworld said Sunday it is considering closing all its movie theaters in Britain and the United States, after the postponement of the new James Bond film left a big hole in schedules.
Cineworld Group PLC owns 543 Regal cinemas in the U.S. and 128 Cineworld venues in the U.K. and Ireland. That includes 11 Regal cinemas in New Jersey.
It said it was “considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and U.S. cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached.”
“Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”
New Jersey theaters reopened in New Jersey in early September, after being closed by state-issued restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic in March. But they're still only allowed to operate. Attendance at any given movie — but not a movie theater complex overall — is capped at either 25 percent of room capacity or 150 movie-goers, whichever is less.
The statement came after the Sunday Times reported that Cineworld’s U.K. and Ireland theaters will shut indefinitely in the coming weeks, putting up to 5,500 people out of work.
The newspaper and other outlets reported that Cineworld plans to write to U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying cinema has become “unviable” because studios are postponing blockbuster releases because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff said they had not been informed or consulted about closures.
“If these reports are true, then the first people Cineworld should be informing are their staff who will suffer as a result -- not the Sunday newspapers,” said Philippa Childs, head of the entertainment workers’ union BECTU.
British movie theaters began to reopen in July, but Childs said “the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.”
Cinemas remain closed in New York and Los Angeles, two of North America’s biggest markets.
Producers said last week that the 25th James Bond thriller, “No Time to Die,” due to open in November, is being delayed until April 2021 because of the effect of the pandemic on theatrical business.
Other major studios have made similar decisions over the past few weeks. Universal has delayed “Candyman” to next year, and the Walt Disney Co. has postponed a handful of major movies to 2021, including Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”
(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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