With the latest James Bond outing “Not Time To Die” officially being postponed to 2021, a major theater chain is being forced to temporarily close all of its locations in the U.S. and U.K. thanks in part to a lack of new releases.
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“No Time to Die” was expected to be a major cog in getting the theater machine up and running again after being majorly impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. Last week, filmmakers went as far as to sign a letter to Congress asking for financial assistance to avoid letting America’s theaters become another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, The Hollywood Reporter notes that Cineworld, the second-largest global exhibitor behind AMC in the U.S., is planning to temporarily close or keep shut all of its locations in the U.S. and U.K.
The British-based company has 120 sites throughout the U.K., where it is the biggest circuit, and operates roughly 540 locations in the U.S. under the Regal Cinemas banner. Although some of its U.K. locations had reopened in July per the government’s guidelines, a lot of its U.S. locations remained closed due to the ongoing pandemic. Now, with little to no new releases to market around, Cineworld and its competitors are in dire straits as there’s nothing to draw already weary crowds back.
While the move may not be good for theater owners, it makes sense from the perspective of studios, which have seen the handful of movies that have come out amid the pandemic largely underperform. Normally reliable blockbuster draw Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” for example, dropped on Labor Day after experiencing delays.
What was expected to be a major box office hit of the summer has only pulled in $41.2 million from North American box offices, with just $3.4 million coming from the United States. This doesn’t do a lot to make up the reported $200 million budget for “Tenet.”
After the studios behind “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Black Widow” announced that the major blockbusters had been pushed back as well, the writing was on the wall for theater chains to plan for a long stretch of no new releases.
Cineworld specifically has been impacted heavily by the COVID-19 shutdown, revealing massive losses in the period that ended in June 2020. Deadline previously reported that its group revenue fell $712.4 million from $2.1 billion in 2019 in that time.
The outlet reports that group adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) fell $53 million from $758.6 million the previous year as admissions fell from 136 million to a staggeringly low 47.5 million in the wake of theater closures throughout the world to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Cineworld now faces a pre-tax loss of $1.6 billion, a stark contrast to the $139.7 million profit it had in 2019. The outlet reports that the company acknowledged what it called the “severe impact” of theater closures, noting that almost all sites were closed between mid-March and August due to the pandemic. Currently, only 561 of its 778 sites are open with 200 theaters in the U.S. in key markets like California and New York shut down and, per The Hollywood Reporter, things are going to get worse before they get better in terms of theater closures.