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Cineworld Is Temporarily Closing Every Regal Theater in the U.S. [Updated]

Image of a theater being disinfected in China.
Image of a theater being disinfected in China.
Photo: STR (Getty Images)

So the whole going-to-see-movies-during-a-pandemic thing really isn’t working out, huh? Who could have seen that coming.

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Okay, not to keep beating this extremely deceased horse, but it keeps coming up: Variety reports that, in response to the No Time to Die delay that puts the last possible big theatrical release of 2020 back in 2021, Cinemaworld, the company behind Regal Cinema, is considering the possibility of closing all its theaters again, possibly for the rest of the year.

Update: October 5, 10:00am

Cineworld confirmed (via Wall Street Journal) that 536 Regal movie theaters in the United States would be closed once again for the foreseeable future, along with all theaters in the UK. Taking place less than two months after theaters were reopened, largely for the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, the U.S. shutdown is set to happen on Thursday and will impact about 40,000 workers.

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“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told WSJ. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”

Below is the full, earlier version of this article.

As Variety tells it, the company, which owns 570 Regal Cinema locations in the United States and 99 locations in the United Kingdom, is strongly considering closing 543 of its US locations and all of its UK and Ireland locations. Variety’s sources indicate that the company is planning on contacting the UK government to inform them that, with no tentpole movies coming out in the foreseeable future, the theater business is unviable and the locations can’t stay open. This decision was, reportedly, made without notifying any employees of the theaters, which include 5,500 people in the United Kingdom alone.

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In a statement via Twitter, Cineworld confirmed that the possibility is being considered, though a final decision hasn’t been made. If it does happen, it’ll probably put an end, at least for now, to the biology experiment that has been trying to run cinemas during the coronavirus pandemic.

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As for when we’ll see theaters open again, No Time to Die is currently slated for April 2, 2021. And who knows if it’ll be safe to see movies again by then. Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune are both still slated for December, but the chances those will be delayed are... pretty high. Especially if Cineworld closes.

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This post has been updated with additional context about Cineworld’s closure of Regal theaters.


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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

I find it interesting that watching movies in a theater is bad, but making movies/tv shows seems to go under the radar. Pattinson got COVID while working on Batman, nobody seemed to care. But opening movies during COVID, oh no, can’t do that. It seems wild everyone is still making movies while having an unsure release date, or to keep pushing them back. It seems like a bad business model, to not know when your return will be for the film. Also, going back to Pattinson, that actors are putting themselves at risk of exposure to COVID to make the films people can’t see in a theater yet, because of COVID. It’s very....peculiar...