WORLD’s second-biggest cinema chain Cineworld will close more than 650 theatres in the UK and the US from October 8, leaving as many as 45,000 workers unemployed, and without any indication of reopening.
The reluctance of studios to push ahead with major releases such as the new James Bond film had forced the firm to close all 536 Regal theatres in the US and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK.
The company’s statement on Monday(5) spelt out the scale of the job losses, which take in thousands of ancillary staff including cleaners and security as well as its own employees.
Shares in the company, which have plummeted more than 80 per cent this year, dropped another 60 per cent to an all-time low within ten minutes of the opening bell on Monday as it said it was looking at all ways of raising additional funds.
Cineworld began reopening in July after virus-related restrictions started to ease, but the further postponement of the James Bond film “No Time To Die” and others including Marvel’s “Black Widow” have left the months ahead looking bleak.
“Without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres,” it said.
Studios have released some of this year’s major planned blockbusters on Netflix or the Disney Plus streaming platform, while cancelling others until next year.
Britain has slid into a fresh round of lockdowns and tightened social restrictions in the past month. Other major UK operators, including Vue cinemas and Odeon are yet to respond to the crisis.
The entertainment industry has been among the heaviest hit by social distancing and other restrictions, with Walt Disney last week announcing plans to lay off roughly 28,000 employees, mostly at its US theme parks.