Some of the last remaining Regal cinemas in the U.S. will reportedly close later this week.
Cineworld, the second-largest theater exhibitor in the U.S. and owner of the Regal chain, announced in October that it would close almost all of its theaters in the U.S. and U.K. in light of the coronavirus pandemic not only forcing closures in some locations but pushing the release of major movies to at least 2021.
Now, according to a report from Deadline, the theater chain will shut the doors on its last remaining locations in New York and California, effective Thursday.
The outlet reports that, despite most of its theaters closing last month, the company kept seven sites in California open, including the newly refurbished Irvine Spectrum, a top-grossing venue for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”
New York is a slightly different story. After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that theaters outside New York City could reopen under strict guidelines, Regal got 11 sites up and running on Oct. 23. However, just three weeks later they’ll reportedly shut their doors again.
In a statement to Fox Business on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Regal said: "In line with our previously announced strategy, Regal is temporarily suspending operations end of day Thursday at the remainder of our theatres in New York State and California until the public health and operational environment allows for the resumption of a full release slate. This change affects a very limited number of our theatres, which we had kept open following the delayed approval of theatre reopenings in their markets and in line with our wish to allow more of our customers to see Tenet on the big screen."
However, Deadline cites insider sources who allege that the company’s reason for closing up shop on the 18 remaining sites is the same reason it shuttered locations in the rest of the country. There are simply not enough new releases to attract audiences to the theater, especially during a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the country. That, coupled with regulations on seating capacity, is making it hard for almost all movie theaters in the U.S. to make money.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many studios to make the harsh decision to push back the release of major titles like “The Batman,” “Dune,” “No Time to Die” and “Black Widow,” all of which were expected to be major box office draws prior to the pandemic.
The lack of new releases isn’t just impacting Regal. AMC Theaters, the country’s largest exhibitor, said recently that it may run out of cash by the end of the year if the situation doesn’t improve.