UPDATED 10/5/20, 10:46 a.m. ET: After Cineworld expressed concern over remaining open, the company has confirmed the closure of its U.K. and U.S. theaters.
The company stated on Monday, "In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the US and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from Thursday, 8 October 2020."
The move could result in the loss of up to 45,000 jobs.
"We are like a grocery shop that doesn't have vegetables, fruit, meat," said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We cannot operate for a long time without a product." As ABC News added, Greidinger spoke with Sky News to indicated that there is now "no alternative," although it's a "very, very difficult decision" for the company. "From a liquidity point of view, we were bleeding much bigger amounts when we are open than when we were closed."
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As more and more movies have been pushed to 2021, Regal Cinemas' parent company Cineworld could be closing all of its theaters in the U.S. and the U.K.
The closures are expected to come within a week at the soonest, and the company has already confirmed the closures are currently being discussed. "We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and U.S. cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached," the Cineworld Cinemas Twitter account revealed. "Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can."
Cineworld could be closing 543 Regal Cinema venues, and all of its cinemas across the United Kingdom and Ireland this week. While the closures would be "temporary," it's unclear if all the theaters will reopen when it is safe to do so, with 37,481 employees worldwide at risk. It's worth highlighting that Regal is the second biggest domestic theater chian in North America, and Cineworld is the biggest operator of theaters in the United Kingdom.
The company plans to write to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in order to inform them that their business right now is "unviable," especially as major tentpole movies like No Time to Die and Black Widow have been hit with major delays for the second time.
On Friday, MGM and Universal announced plans to delay No Time to Die until April 2, 2021. That's a whole year after it was originally planned to debut in theaters. Initially, it was delayed until November near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Christopher Nolan's latest blockbuster has underperformed at the domestic box office so far, grossing a disappointing $41 million so far.