Regal Issues Statement on Timing of All Theater Closures

Regal owner Cineworld says it will suspend operations at all theatres on Thursday, October 8, due to an "increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures." In the wake of MGM and Universal's delaying No Time to Die from November to April over the weekend, Cineworld opted to shutter all 127 theatre locations across the U.K. and Ireland. The move impacts around 45,000 employees and sees the temporary shuttering of 536 Regal cinemas across the United States. Other would-be blockbusters, including Universal's twice-delayed Fast 9 and Disney-Marvel's Black Widow, previously vacated 2020 and shifted dates by months into 2021.

"In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures, Regal will suspend operations at all theaters at close of business on Thursday, October 8, 2020 until further notice," the chain said in a statement Monday.

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger in a statement said shuttering operations is "not a decision we made lightly."

"We did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable re-openings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry," Greidinger said.

In an interview with Deadline, Greidinger said a major factor for the decision was a lack of open theaters in New York. The James Bond delay was the "last straw."

Asked if Cineworld was considering closures before the delay of No Time to Die, Greidinger answered, "No. But it’s not fair to put the whole thing of the closure on Bond — Bond was just the last straw."

"As you know, the cost of running the cinemas without movies is very high, but we said internally that we would hold for the coming six weeks (until Bond) and keep the business open for our customers and for our employees," Greidinger said. "But when the Bond decision arrived, a decision that followed numerous delays of other movies, we had to change the direction, close the cinemas and wait for a situation where the studios will be able to present a solid release schedule. The main thing blocking the studios is that they don’t see movement in New York — and in some other places — but New York is kind of the symbol. Even California is already 50% open."

Greidinger points to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's "inflexibility" in allowing theaters to reopen as the main cause for the closures.

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Remarking this is "not an easy situation" but "the right decision," Greidingers said, "I believe that people should understand that cinemas all over the world, and for sure in the U.S., are in a way closing down in view of Governor Cuomo's inflexibility. The Governor allows in-restaurant dining, bowling alleys, casinos and others, but he will not allow cinemas."

He continued, "Cinemas have taken huge steps and made a big investment in creating 'CinemaSafe' protocols and we can clearly say after operating the cinemas for over two months, that we are offering a safe environment for our customers."