LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In what is sure to be a major blow to Hollywood’s film industry, the second largest theater chain in the United States is temporarily closing all its theaters this week due to the lack of new releases.
Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, confirmed in a statement Monday it will temporarily close its 536 theaters nationwide beginning on Thursday. It will also close another 127 theaters in the U.K.
About 40,000 employees in the U.S. will be effected, Cineworld said.
“Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and 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,” the company said in a statement.
The news came after MGM and Universal announced Friday that the release date for the latest James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” was being pushed back yet again, from November to April of 2021.
The movie had originally been slated to come out in April. It’s just one in a series of studio releases which have been either delayed or have been released to streaming services. The Marvel blockbuster “Black Widow,” Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” the Agatha Christie adaptation “Death on the Nile,” the Angelina Jolie-lead superhero ensemble “The Eternals” and Ben Affleck’s “Deep Water” have all seen their release dates delayed.
Regal had just begun reopening theaters nationwide in mid-August. Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” whose release was put off several times, was the first major tentpole to hit U.S. theaters after the reopening.
“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,” Cineworld’s CEO Mooky Greidinger wrote in the statement.
Los Angeles County theaters have all remained closed since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March. Theaters in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties reopened last month at 25% capacity after getting the OK to do so from the state.
In its statement, Cineworld noted that the state of New York, one of the most important film markets in the world, has also not yet reopened its theaters.
“Content isn’t going anywhere, but this particular delivery system, yeah, it may be mentoring into what you might call a final phase, they may start fading out from here on out, because they’re just not able to do what people want in this modern era,” economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg, director of the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, told CBSLA.
Meanwhile, with film and television production slowly beginning to resume in L.A. County, Hollywood labor unions and studios last month reached a deal on coronavirus protocols.