Our much loved, and well supported entertainment industry has been struggling throughout the pandemic. Theatres have closed, some forever. Productions and tours have come to a halt, and thousand of people are still wondering where that leaves them with regards jobs and security.
Now, our largest cinema chain, CINEWORLD said it will close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK and Ireland, putting thousands of jobs at risk. They will also close theatres in America, with a total of 45,000 employees set to be affected worldwide.
More than 600 sites will be closed across the two countries from Thursday after the industry was rocked by plans by James Bond studios MGM and Universal decided to delay the release of the franchise’s latest film.
Here in Wales this will affect 2 cinemas in Newport, Friars Walk and Spytty Park, also the Cineworld theatre in the centre of Cardiff.
It did not specify how many jobs are at risk in the UK, however, on Sunday, the PA news agency understood that 5,500 would be hit.
Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said………
“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.”
This comes after the announcement that the release date of the new James Bond film No Time to Die has been put back, yet again, to April next year. The next Fast and Furious movie, F9, has also delayed. Other blockbusters such as Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” have also been delayed until 2021.
Executives at Cineworld Group PLC, which is the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, have written to Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Downden, to tell them that the industry has become “unviable”.
South Wales Life understands the decision to close will be blamed on the postponement of major blockbusters due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It seems the closures will be temporary, with a view to reopen next year to coincide with the delayed major releases.
Phil Clapp is chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, he said about the 007 announcement….
“It’s probably the most serious blow to UK cinema operators of a number of similar announcements over the past few weeks and will undoubtedly cause a significant number of cinemas to close again”.
“As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films.
In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of Covid-19.”
Mr Greidinger said Cineworld will wait until “the appropriate time” to talk about reopening.
“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.”
As the announcement was made Cineworld’s shares plunged as it confirmed plans to temporarily close its UK and US cinemas.
Cineworld started reopening in July after lockdown measure were eased. At the time, Cineworld Group Plc said that 561 of its 778 global sites had reopened, with 200 cinemas in the US, six in the UK and 11 in Israel still closed.
Only last week, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, warned further restrictions or movie delays may force it to raise further cash after it revealed £1.3bn half-year losses.
They had made a $139.7m profit in the same period 12 months ago. The pandemic wiped out more than two-thirds of its revenues, which dropped from $2.15bn in the first half of 2019 to $712.4m in the first half of this year.
The Cineworld group said at that time……
“There can be no certainty as to the future impact of COVID-19 on the group. 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 group would risk breaching financial covenants in December in a “severe but plausible” scenario of further prolonged shutdowns in the US, UK and other markets, it said. Options include not only requesting extensions of existing loans, but also raising equity.
In America, some of movies biggest hitters have climbed on board to try and save screens.
Many famous directors – including James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood – are calling on Congress to aid movie theatres in the United States amid the ongoing pandemic, saying they fear for the future of the filmmaking industry.
In a letter to Washington leaders, the three Oscar-winning directors were joined by dozens of other famous filmmakers — including Judd Apatow, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, Wes Anderson and Ang Lee, in a plea to seek help.
Saying that, the current health crisis has dealt a horrific shock to cinemas, the group says that without funds “theatres may not survive the impact of the pandemic.”
The full statement from Cineworld reads…….
“In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the USA and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from Thursday, 8 October 2020.
As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films.
In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of COVID-19.
These closures will impact approximately 45,000 employees. 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’s main priorities remain the safety of customers and employees, cash preservation and cost reduction. As noted in its Interim Results announced on September 24, 2020, Cineworld is assessing several sources of additional liquidity and all liquidity raising options are being considered.”