Regal Cinemas, the second-largest movie chain in America, will once again close its doors due to challenges posed by the pandemic. At the same time, Regal’s chief rival and America’s largest theater chain, AMC, vowed to stay open.
Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, announced Monday that it will suspend operations at all 536 of its US movie theaters beginning this Thursday. The company specifically cited the dearth of upcoming releases as the main reason for the decision. In recent days, major blockbusters including James Bond’s No Time to Die and Dune have been pushed back to 2021.
“Without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and UK — the company’s primary markets — with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary fo them to consider coming back to theaters against the backdrop of COVID-19,” the company said in a press statement.
“This is not a decision we made lightly,” added Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. “We did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the US, from putting in place robust health and safety measures at our theaters to joining our industry in making a collective commitment to the CinemaSafe protocols to reaching out to state and local officials to educate them on these initiatives.” Cineworld previously shuttered its operations during the early days of the pandemic, but re-opened some of its locations back in July.
AMC, on the other hand, has committed to staying open, thanks in part to its recent pact with Universal Studios. The two companies agreed to share in the profits of PVOD titles in exchange for shortened theatrical windows. “Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theaters when others may feel the need to close,” AMC chairman-CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.
Other major theater chains including Cinemark and Alamo Drafthouse have also vowed to stay open. In the case of Alamo Drafthouse, the company recently introduced a theater rental system where patrons can pre-order a screening room for themselves (along with friends and family) to enjoy a private screening of a movie.
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