20th Century Fox has cancelled plans to release X-Men Origins: Wolverine in Mexico this weekend because most of the city’s cinemas are closed.

The swine flu outbreak, which has already claimed nearly 150 lives in Mexico, has forced the country’s leading cinema chains to shut down dozens of cinemas throughout Mexico City.

Market leader Cinepolis said its cinemas in the capital, the surrounding state of Mexico and the northern state of San Luis Potosi will be closed “until further notice.”

Cinepolis rival Cinemex also has shut several cinemas in the area. Cinepolis and Cinemex operate 13 of the country’s 25 most profitable cinema complexes.

As audiences heed government warnings to avoid visiting places with crowds, the Mexican box office is taking a severe hit. According to the National Film Chamber, Mexico ranked 13th worldwide in box office receipts last year.

In terms of the previous 3 X-Men films, Mexico was the franchise’s fifth highest grossing territory. The three films have taken $41.2m to date.

Wolverine will open in most other territories in the world this weekend. Fox is expected to set a new release date when the extent of the outbreak is known.