Regal Cinemas Closing Remaining Locations Despite COVID Vaccine News

Despite news of a COVID vaccine performing better than expected in advanced trials, Regal is shutting down its remaining theaters in the United States. The chain — the second biggest in the country behind AMC Theaters — announced Monday it was closing any remaining screens open in New York and California as it tries to decide what its next step is. The latest round of closures will affect 18 locations in the two states, 11 in New York and seven in California.

According to a report from Deadline, the closures aren't related to rising COVID cases in both states. Rather, the trade suggests, Regal is frustrated with the lack of new releases from studios and distributors.

When the Cineworld-owned chain first announced closures last month, it largely placed the blame on the unwillingness of California and New York governments to reopen their theaters.

"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," Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said in the chain's initial statement.

"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," the executive added. "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."

The company-wide closures are expected to affect upwards of 45,000 thousand employees. Since Regal has announced its closures, AMC and Cinemark have both revealed they intend to remain open barring any additional procedural pivots from local governments.

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"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," Greidinger's statement concluded. "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."

Cover photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images