Cineworld, owner of the largest chain of theaters in the UK and Ireland and the second-largest in the United States — Regal Cinemas — will reportedly close all its theaters next week, according to Variety, The Sunday Times, and others.
Variety reports that all 543 theaters in the US will be closed, which account for the chain’s 7,000+ screens in the region. The Sunday Times reports that it will close all 128 theaters in the UK and Ireland, too.
Both say James Bond is the reason.
Yesterday, the 25th James Bond film — No Time to Die — was pushed back to April 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, denying theaters one of the last major tentpole releases due out this year. Apparently, theaters were counting on Bond, specifically, to arrive on time and help bail them out of poor ticket sales.
In a statement, Cineworld did not confirm that it would close its theaters, though did say it is “considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US cinemas.” However, “a final decision has not yet been reached,” Cineworld said.
The news of a possible closure came as a shock to Cineworld’s employees, whose action group stated on Twitter that “there has been no consultation with staff whatsoever,” and that they learned from The Sunday Times that their 5,500-some jobs were in jeopardy.
Cineworld in particular reported a loss of $1.6 billion in the first half of 2020. AMC, the largest US theater chain, has experienced dire results due to the pandemic as well.
Disney/Pixar’s Soul is still slated for theaters in November, and both Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune were expected in December, but it seems even more likely that they’d be delayed if these theaters are closed. At this point, we’re beyond mere caution: the dominoes are falling.
Regal didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Deadline reports the chain has been radio silent.
Update October 4th, 11:43AM ET: Added statement from Cineworld.
Update October 5th, 11:36 AM ET: Regal and Cineworld have now confirmed they are closing all theaters.