536 Regal Cinemas locations are closing in the United States. Over the summer, Cineworld — which owns Regal — opened theaters where permitted. Following the delay of the new James Bond film and other major releases, the theater chain is temporarily closing down, possibly for good.
Most Regal Cinemas employees learned about the news from the media, as many employees have pointed out. Cineworld is closing their Regal locations in the United States and the U.K. “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S.– from putting in place robust health and safety measures at our theatres to joining our industry in making a collective commitment to the CinemaSafe protocols to reaching out to state and local officials to educate them on these initiatives,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
Theater chains such as Regal have been bleeding money ever since lockdown over COVID-19. Movie theaters’ troubles have only worsened this year, as studios keep releasing movies on VOD or delaying them until 2021. New York and Los Angeles, which are two of the biggest moviegoing markets in the world, are keeping their theaters closed.
The state regulations in the major East and West Coast cities have prevented studios from releasing their major titles, which would likely bring audiences back to theaters. “Despite our work, positive feedback from our customers and the fact that there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas, we have not been given a route to reopen in New York, although other indoor activities – like indoor dining, bowling and casinos were already allowed,” the company added. “The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us. As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”
Over 40,000 Regal Cinema Employees are facing furloughs. In the U.K., 5,000 employees will face the same fate. Throughout the year, Cineworld’s stock has plummeted from COVID-19 and theaters closing. A year ago, Cineworld’s stock was worth $275. Now, the company’s stock is worth $22. The company’s stock is unlikely to rise anytime soon, too.
Major studios continue to delay the few remaining major releases of the year. December’s highly-anticipated Dune is now coming out in 2021, for example. There are only a few major releases remaining on the 2020 theatrical schedule. There’s The Croods sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, and Pixar’s Soul, which after the major success of Mulan on Disney+, may go straight to streaming on Disney+. If studios continue to kick their movies out of 2020, movie theaters will continue to suffer, as will their employees. As of right now, AMC Theaters and Cinemark are keeping their theaters open as COVID-19 continues to put the theatrical business at risk.