Cineworld to close all UK, Ireland screens, Sunday Times says By Reuters

© Reuters. General view of an empty cinema foyer at Cineworld in Hemel Hempstead as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world

(Reuters) – Cineworld, the world’s second-biggest cinema operator, is set to close all its screens in the United Kingdom and Ireland as soon as the coming week, London’s Sunday Times reported on Saturday.

The Regal cinema owner write to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden over the weekend to say the industry has become “unviable” because of film studios’ decision to postpone big-budget films, the newspaper said.

The new James Bond movie, “No Time To Die,” became the latest blockbuster to be pushed into next year as the movie industry struggles to get back to business amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cineworld declined to comment on the Sunday Times report.

The company, which started reopening its sites from July, runs a total of 128 theatres and 1,180 screens in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Cineworld is expected to announce its plan, which could put about 5,500 jobs at risk, as soon as Monday, the report said.

“If Governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity,” the company said last month.

The release of “Black Widow” and “West Side Story” has also been delayed until 2021.

Efforts to get audiences back into theaters have proved disappointing. While bigger chains like AMC Entertainment (NYSE:), Cineworld and others have reopened many locations, crowds have been thin. Small and mid-sized theatre companies have said they may not survive the impact of the pandemic.

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