Cineworld confirms plans to temporarily shut all UK sites

5 October 2020, 07:31 | Updated: 5 October 2020, 09:33

Cineworld's UK sites will close from Thursday, it has been confirmed
Cineworld's UK sites will close temporarily from Thursday, it has been confirmed. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Cinema chain Cineworld has confirmed plans to temporarily close its sites in both the UK and the US after big studios started to delay their major film releases to wait for better audiences.

The decision to close cinemas from Thursday will affect around 45,000 employees in the two countries - Cineworld's two main markets.

The firm will shut 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from this Thursday, and 536 Regal theatres in the US.

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: "This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings 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.

"We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was.

"Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen."

It is understood around 5,500 UK jobs will be affected.

Thérèse Coffey told LBC today: “Understandably, they [Cineworld] have come to the conclusion that they cannot keep staff on any more. In terms of that sort of help that we can provide, it may be that people who are used to doing customer service, aspects of hospitality, we can actually draw out of those skills and make them consider perhaps a role in social care. Even if that’s only in the short term.”

On Friday, the release of Bond film No Time To Die was delayed for the second time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The film was meant to hit cinemas in November, but fans will now have to wait until April 2 next year before seeing Daniel Craig's final outing in the role.

The movie joins other potential hits such as Black Widow and Wonder Woman: 1984, which have been delayed by the pandemic.

Cineworld said on Monday: "As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films.

"In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK - the company's primary markets - with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of Covid-19."