Cineworld to Close 543 Regal Theaters in U.S. 'Until Further Notice'

The movie industry is in a very bad place. 

As we've covered over the last months, thanks to the inability to show movies and the inability for new movies (like Tenetto break out, theaters are in a terrible position. Now, without an end in sight, the companies that own theaters across the world are forced to make some very hard decisions. 

According to Variety, Cineworld could shutter 543 of its Regal Cinema venues in the U.S. and all cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland this coming week. Closures of these kinds put tens of thousands of jobs at risk in the USA and UK.

Theaters were holding onto the hope that the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, would bring in audiences and cash flow, but when that movie pushed into next year they understood the bigger picture: Studios can afford not to exhibit their biggest titles. Theaters cannot afford not to show movies. 

Cineworld said in a statement, “If governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity.”

With Soul, Wonder Woman 1984, and Dune set to hit theaters in December, there's still some hope these places will not shut down. But let's be realistic... would these studios really be releasing such important films to theaters when audiences won't come? 

Most large theater groups were certain Bond would hold fast, but it was yanked away almost without any notice. 

These are hard times.     

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I don't expect cinemas to ever come back, even if covid somehow goes away. Consider that in the last 20 years, cinemas were able to get customers with only tentpole movies. Dramas and comedies became a festival fare instead, because they were not "events". So Hollywood, having realized that people only cared for cinemas for big event movies, started doing all these remakes of older blockbusters. That's the action of someone in an industry on the end of its rope.

In other words, big chain cinemas would have been dead by 2028, it's just that covid accelerated their demise. I say 2028 and not 2030s, because I like the irony between the first talkie in 1928, being 100 years of cinema as the main form of entertainment for people. Social media, streamers/youtube, and mostly computer games, have now replaced that. Covid was just an acceleration. Their demise was certain.

Sure, art local cinemas will continue to exist, for the old timers like us. But the industry as a bedrock for the Hollywood system is forever gone. Hollywood knows that, streaming is their only future, unless they manage to innovate and marry scripted movies with a computer game mentality. Most young people prefer to be active in front of a screen instead of passive. Unless this is addressed, Hollywood will continue to bleed.

October 6, 2020 at 3:43AM

Eugenia Loli
Filmmaker, illustrator, collage artist