Oh, this is not good and really just one of the sadder things to come out of this weekend. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down, and those of us that cover the movie industry knew it was just a matter of time before a major company decided to cut their losses. It seems that we have our first major shutting, and it comes from Cineworld. According to Variety, Cineworld will close all 543 US locations of Regal Cinemas as soon as Monday, along with all cinemas across the United Kingdom and Ireland. This decision comes at the heels of MGM deciding to push back No Time To Die until April of 2021 in light of the pandemic and people not being comfortable returning to crowded movie theaters.
To make matters worse, it sounds like Cineworld is utterly dropping the ball on their 5000+ United Kingdom employees. The employees have had to set up their own group, Cineworld Action Group, a collective of employees supported by entertainment union Bectu, didn't learn about the closures from their management but from a preview of The Sunday Times according to their twitter account. "The front page of tomorrow's Times is announcing that Cineworld is planning to close all of its cinemas across the country as soon as this week putting all of our jobs at immediate risk. There has been no consultation with staff whatsoever," the account said. "We have found out vital information about our jobs from the media throughout the pandemic. Workers have been left out of discussions that should've included our voices. However, in this case, it goes beyond belief. To find out you may no longer have a job from the media is awful. The way we have been treated throughout the pandemic has been terrible. -We were initially sacked via inhuman scripted phone calls in March. -80% furlough has left many of us struggling to make ends meet. -Health and safety concerns have been consistently ignored. Words cannot express how this feels. Solidarity to all of our colleagues across Cineworld and Picturehouse."
The future of the movie theater is looking pretty bleak for the rest of 2020. At the moment, there are only a handful of holdouts for the year, and even then, no one really knows if those movies are going to come out. At the moment, Disney is denying the rumors that Soul is going to Disney+, but we'll have to see, and Death on the Nile is still on the schedule. Warner Bros. has Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune still on the schedule while Sony just moved Monster Hunter to December today.
Nothing about this Regal closure is good for anyone and sources are saying they could stay closed through 2021. Regal is the second largest domestic chain in the United States, so we have to wonder what is going to happen to AMC Theatres or smaller chains. Studios have every right to delay these movies; they have millions of dollars on the line that they are trying to make back, but now we're left wondering if there are going to be many theaters left for them to open these delayed movies in come 2021.