Movie theaters are still struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic despite efforts to keep them open. Cineworld has partly confirmed reports at Variety and Reuters that it’s looking at once again (if temporarily) closing its movie theaters in the US, UK and Ireland, including Regal Cinemas theaters in the US. It stressed that it hadn’t reached a decision and didn’t outline reasoning, but a shutdown wouldn’t be surprising regardless.
According to Variety, any closures would happen due to a lack of top-tier movies that would bring customers to ailing theaters. With the James Bond movie No Time to Die delayed to April 2021 and few other big titles expected to get theatrical releases in 2020, Cineworld didn’t have much reason to keep screens available. Regal only started reopening US theaters in August to accommodate Christopher Nolan's Tenet.
The realities of the pandemic might also play a role. COVID-19 is surging in these markets. Moviegoers may be further worried about going to theaters, and governments might reinstitute lockdown measures that could force closures regardless.
If the closures take place, they could prompt large-scale job cuts. They would also underscore the importance of streaming movies during the pandemic. With theaters unlikely to bounce back until there’s a vaccine, digital releases might be the only way to see new movies short of lengthy delays.
We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US 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.— Cineworld Cinemas (@cineworld) October 4, 2020