From The Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — In response to COVID-19 restrictions and multiple delays by movie makers in releasing new titles, Cineworld, parent company of Regal, Tuesday announced that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S., as of Thursday, October 8, 2020. No reopening date has been set.
Approximately 40,000 workers across the U.S. will be impacted by the closure. Regal is the second largest operator of theaters in the U.S.
“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.– from putting in place robust health and safety measures at our theatres to joining our industry in making a collective commitment to the CinemaSafe protocols to reaching out to state and local officials to educate them on these initiatives,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld said. “We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was.”
As major U.S. markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release its pipeline of new films. In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and U.K. with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theaters against the backdrop of COVID-19, the company said in the Tuesday press release.
“Despite our work, positive feedback from our customers and the fact that there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas, we have not been given a route to reopen in New York, although other indoor activities – like indoor dining, bowling and casinos were already allowed,” Greidinger said. “The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us. As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”
Delayed releases include Dune, James Bond, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984 and The Batman.
“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” Greidinger told the Wall Street Journal. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”
Regal said the company will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.