One of the hardest hit industries in the wake of the global pandemic has been the entertainment world, specifically movie theaters. First, AMC Theaters considered filing bankruptcy. And in another harrowing move, Cineworld Group PLC is temporarily suspending operations in all of its 127 Cineworld and 536 Regal Theater properties across the U.S., UK, and Ireland.
For our British cinephiles, you know this. For the rest of you who may not be crying already, Cineworld, the world’s second largest theater (or theatre) chain, is a British cinema company with 9,518 screens across 790 sites in 11 countries: the UK, the US, Canada, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Israel, Hungary, Czechia, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
This horrible news means almost 700 of those sites could be tuned out permanently following the much-delayed 25th Bond film No Time to Die. Over the weekend, it all started like this…
For Cineworld, It May Be Time to Die
Amazing what happens when people have had time to sleep on things. Apparently, things are more dire than it seems as Cineworld determined they couldn’t wait for No Time to Die. It was time now.
In an early morning report, Variety received the following statement. And if you listen closely, you can hear “Taps” blowing in the background. Softly.
“In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters in the U.K. from Thursday, 8 October 2020.”Cineworld Official Statement
Over the weekend, it seemed the timing for this decision had ranged from maybe to definitely, next week or next year, but something eerie this way comes for the Cineworld Movie Group. Why not wait to pull the pin in the bulletin board following Daniel Craig’s last effort as the great super spy? That was now scheduled for April 2021.
It is the large staple of tentpole releases being delayed to 2021, like the James Bond flick, that has Cineworld reeling. See? They need money now. Bills don’t wait for “But, uh, these are movies are coming in a few months.” The rent and electricity doesn’t care about that.
“Without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and the U.K. — the company’s primary markets — with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theaters against the backdrop of COVID-19.”CINEWORLD OFFICIAL STATEMENT
COVID-19’s Latest Victim
There are 33,000 people at risk of losing their jobs with this closure. Cineworld is facing $1.64 billion in losses following COVID-19! This is real and awful news.
With every movie delaying its release or fighting off VOD, theaters can’t catch a break. The movie experience is missed by many people. Yet, from freaking out about Coronavirus to getting tired of seeing the retro cinema circa 1983, doors stay closed and theater chains keep paying bills from the piggy bank or whatever they stuffed into their pleather seat cushions.
Just ask the boss…
“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable re-openings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry”Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger per Variety
According to reports, if Warner Bros. sticks it out and actually releases winter blockbusters like Dune and the delayed Wonder Woman 1984, Cineworld and Regal Theaters could reopen in a couple of months. If those get delayed, the locks could stay on permanently. And no progress on the medical front isn’t helping either.
“If we don’t have any movies until we’re fully vaccinated as a world, a lot of the theater companies are going to be gone and the theaters themselves won’t be there. So your infrastructure to play your movies and get grosses will not be the same. This idea of waiting out the pandemic to make your movies more profitable doesn’t make sense to me. There won’t be as much of an industry left to play your movies in if you do that.”John Fithian, National Association of Theater Owners CEO via Variety
Seven words cinephiles should be terrified to hear: “Won’t be much of an industry left…” But it is Halloween, so there’s that for scary timing. Very, very scary indeed.