On Sunday 4 October 2020 unconfirmed reports swirled that Cineworld would be shuttering its cinemas in the UK and the US. The reason being that the cinema business was now untenable due to COVID-19 restrictions and the fact the studios have bumped all their major films into 2021 – the big one being No Time To Die.
The company has now officially confirmed the closures in a statement:
“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.
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.
“Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”
Cineworld is the second largest largest cinema chain in the world and the largest in the UK (where it operates Cineworld and Picturehouse). The company has 128 cinemas across the UK and Ireland and 543 in the United States.
It’s hard to see how the world of theatrical distribution is going to bounce back from this. This could be the end of the big screen experience on a mass scale.