Regal Cinemas likely to close all US theatres as pandemic continues to slam movie industry, report says

A Regal Cinemas location seen closed on May 3 in New York City. Rob Kim/Getty Images
  • Regal Entertainment Group is likely to close all of its US locations as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on release plans, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
  • After “Tenet” fuelled the reopening of hundreds of theatres around the US, postponed movies including the latest James Bond title pull key revenue from struggling chains.
  • Regal began reopening theatres in August but may shutter its more than 500 locations around the country amid low turnout.
  • Still, Regal’s plan isn’t set in stone, and a final decision could arrive Monday or Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told The Journal.
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Cineworld Group is considering closing all of its Regal Entertainment Group movie theatres in the US after several large-scale releases were delayed, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

A closure would affect more than 500 theatres as the theatre business struggles to maintain signs of life. The release of Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster “Tenet” was meant to be a shot in the arm for the industry after months of inactivity.

Yet new delays threaten to plunge theatres back into a blackout. MGM Holdings on Friday announced it would postpone the release of the latest James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” to April from its planned November date. Other major releases including Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” have also been pushed back.

Still, Regal’s plan isn’t fixed, and a final decision isn’t likely to arrive until Monday or Tuesday, sources familiar with the plan told The Journal.

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Regal is the second-largest theatre chain after AMC. Both companies began reopening locations in August but face continued financial pressure as COVID-19 case counts steadily rise throughout the US. Only about two-thirds of locations in the US have opened, and weak box-office results for “Tenet” suggest Americans still fear making their way to a theatre.

Regal’s decision is being influenced by the persistent closing of theatres in major cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, according to the Journal report.

The chain’s parent company is also said to be mulling large-scale closings abroad. Cineworld may shut down theatres in the UK following the James Bond delay, Bloomberg reported Sunday.

Theatres are among the businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus. The companies, along with hotels, airlines, and chain restaurants, have come to be known as “reopening plays” among investors betting on a swift economic rebound. While the sectors recovered through the summer, new virus outbreaks in the US and Europe threaten new lockdowns and erase months of reopening progress.

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