UPDATE: Cineworld has confirmed that it could close its UK and US venues, but that a “final decision has not yet been reached.”
In a statement, the exhibition chain said: “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.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Exhibition chain Cineworld will shut all of its UK and Ireland venues, as well as its Regal Cinemas sites in the US.
According to a report in the UK’s Sunday Times, the firm could close all its screens on both sides of the Atlantic from Monday, with sites not reopening until potentially 2021.
It is reported that UK and Ireland staff will be notified on Monday of the closures, with around 5,500 jobs at risk.
The company wrote to UK prime minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden this weekend to advise the exhibition industry has become “unviable” because of the decision by studios to postpone big-budget films.
The move follows the release of James Bond title No Time To Die being pushed back from November this year to April 2021. It is the latest major 2020 blockbuster to be delayed, with Disney’s Black Widow and West Side Story also recently postponed.
Cineworld has 128 sites in the UK and Ireland, with the Regal Cinema chain operating 543 venues in the US.
Screen has contacted Cineworld for comment.
Last month the chain posted a pre-tax loss of $1.6bn as a result of the pandemic, with Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger saying: “The impact of Covid-19 on our business and the wider leisure industry has been substantial.”
Cineworld also owns the UK boutique chain PIcturehouse. It is not yet known if it will be impacted by the closures.