Cineworld is to shut all of its 128 UK and Ireland cinemas, putting thousands of jobs at risk, according to reports.
The cinema chain could announce the decision, which would put up to 5,500 jobs at risk, as early as tomorrow, reports The Sunday Times.
It comes as bosses of Cineworld Group PLC, the world’s second-largest cinema chain, are reportedly preparing to write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden to say the industry has become ‘unviable’.
Yesterday, the release of the new James Bond movie No Time to Die was delayed until April 2021, just weeks before it was about to be released. The highly-anticipated film had already been postponement from its original release date in April due to coronavirus.
On Friday, the release of the highly-anticipated Fast and Furious sequel F9 was also delayed again, while Disney announced last month that its live-action version of Mulan instead debut on its streaming service Disney Plus instead of a theatrical release.
The new Fast and Furious meanwhile is set for release on May 28, 2021, it was announced by Universal yesterday.
Cineworld will look to reopen next year in line with the big blockbuster releases, according to the reports, which suggest many of the company’s staff will be offered redundancy, with possible incentives to rejoin when cinemas reopen.
The reports are another knock-back for the UK cinema industry, which took a profit hit when the country was plunged into lockdown in March following the outbreak of coronavirus.
After months of forced closures, Cineworld was due to reopen its theatres on July 10, after lockdown measures were eased by the government, allowing the reopening of cinemas from July 4.
But it delayed the reopening of its cinemas in the UK by more than two weeks until July 31 to coincide with ‘recent adjustments to the schedule of upcoming movie releases’.
Social distancing measures were also introduced, including such as one-way systems, perspex screens for staff, mandatory contactless payment and no more pick and mix.
However, despite reopening, Cineworld raised doubts over its ability to survive a second lockdown as it reported a £1.3bn loss for the first half of the year because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The cinema chain, which is the largest in the UK and second largest in the world behind Chinese firm Wanda Cinemas, posted pre-tax loss for the six months to June compares with profits of £110m a year earlier.
Issues were further compounded by a short supply of big blockbusters throughout the summer.
Christopher Nolan’s spy-thriller Tenent set to be one of the highlights.
However industry experts have reportedly been ‘spooked’ by the film’s lacklustre performance on the big screen, causing other major studios to postpone their major releases.
This includes the latest in the James Bond series ‘No Time To Die’, which had been scheduled to debut in theatres on November 11.
But it will now be delayed ‘in order for it to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience’, the film’s producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced this week.
The latest film in the James Bond series ‘No Time To Die’, which had been scheduled to debut in theatres on November 11, has now been postponed until April 2021