Movie theater mega chain Cineworld, the world’s second largest cinema operator, is closing screens across the U.S. and U.K. as the coronavirus epidemic continues to keep audiences away and thwart block buster theatrical releases.
The Regal cinema owner, which began tentative reopenings in July after initial coronavirus lockdown restrictions started to ease, employs 37,482 people across 787 venues in the U.S., Britain and central Europe. There are another 546 sites in America.
News of the closures come after it was announced Friday the release of the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die, has been pushed into next year.
This postponement crushes hopes for a 2020 industry rebound, Reuters reports, as more and more films are pushed into 2021 or go straight to video-on-demand releases instead of getting traditional week to months-long runs in cinemas. Starring Daniel Craig, the film was scheduled to open Nov. 20, but is now slated to premiere April 2, its official website said Friday.
“We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans, but we now look forward to sharing No Time To Die next year,” MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a joint statement.
Britain’s Sunday Times said Cineworld had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Minister Oliver Dowden to warn the industry was becoming “unviable” because of the decision by film studios to postpone big-budget releases.
The London-listed company warned investors on Sept. 24 it might need to raise more money if its sites were forced to shut again, after it swung to a $1.64 billion first-half loss. Its shares have fallen 82 percent this year.
The loss of thousands of cinema jobs around the globe is just another consequence of the spread of the coronavirus, which was first detected last November in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Due to combined efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to hide the outbreak from the world and the complicity of the World Health Organization who lied about the virus’s lethality while praising China for its response, more jobs are expected to be lost with little prospect of ever returning.