On Monday, Regal Cinemas officially announced that it will be closing all of its locations in the U.S. "until further notice." The movie theater chain has been struggling through the coronavirus pandemic, and even when it was allowed to reopen, health concerns kept many customers away. Movie fans are fearful of what this might do to the entertainment industry as a whole.
"In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape, and sustained key market closures, Regal will suspend operations at all theatres at close of business on Thursday, October 8, 2020 until further notice," read a company statement on Monday afternoon. The revelation came after reports had heavily hinted that Regal's parent company, Cineworld would be making these closures soon. Cineworld is the largest movie theater chain in the U.K., while Regal Cinemas is the largest domestic theater chain in the U.S. This closure will leave many Americans with no place to see a movie indoors.
This weekend, Variety reported that Cineworld and Regal were considering an indefinite closure — among other options — following the delay of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die. The spy thriller was pushed from November back to April of 2021, and with no new blockbuster hits to entice fans with, theaters have a very slim chance of remaining profitable at this time.
Cineworld publicly confirmed this story on Twitter, admitting that it was still just considering this plan as late as Sunday around 11 a.m. ET. Meanwhile, employees of the corporation were furious, announcing that they had learned about this possibility from news reports, not internal communications, and that they had risked their health during the pandemic only to be back out of work with little warning.
We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached. Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.— Cineworld Cinemas (@cineworld) October 4, 2020
Along with the rest of the movie theater world, Regal Cinemas was reportedly hit hard by the shuffling and re-shuffling of major studios' movie release schedules over the last few months. While theaters are eager for new material to draw customers in despite the health risks, studios are hesitant to release a movie now when it might make exponentially more money once a vaccine is available.
The biggest test of this delicate balance so far has been Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which performed reasonably well at international box offices, but not in the U.S. This may have precipitated the delay of No Time to Die, and makes other upcoming releases uncertain as well. With all this in mind, it may be a while before the movie industry is back to any semblance of "normal."