Rob Kim/Getty ImagesSummary List Placement
Cineworld Group is considering closing all of its Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters in the US after several large-scale releases were delayed, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The potential move would shutter its more than 500 theaters around the country just as the theater business began to see some signs of life. The release of Christopher Nolan's summer blockbuster "Tenet" served as a shot-in-the-arm for the industry after months of inactivity.
Yet new delays threaten to plunge theaters back into a blackout. MGM Holdings announced Friday 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.
Regal comprises the second-largest theater chain after AMC. Both companies began reopening locations in August but face continued financial pressure as COVID-19 case counts steadily rises 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 theater.
Regal's possible closure decision is partly driven by the persisting closure of theaters in major cities like Los Angeles and New York City, according to the report.
The chain's parent company is also mulling large-scale closures abroad. Cineworld may shut down theaters in the UK following the James-Bond delay, Bloomberg reported Sunday. The company is informing Prime Minister Boris Johnson this weekend that postponed blockbusters are forcing the theater industry into its troubling position.
Theaters 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.