World’s second-biggest cinema chain to close 536 US theatres and 127 UK sites amid Covid-19 crisis

Britain’s biggest cinema chain, Cineworld, is to shut all its UK and US venues, putting up to 5,500 jobs in Britain at risk, after the latest James Bond movie was delayed into next year.

Cineworld, which owns the Regal cinema and Picturehouse chains, is understood to be preparing to announce plans to close all its 127 theatres in the UK as soon as Monday. It is also closing all its 536 Regal cinemas in the US. Cineworld employed 37,000 people globally before the pandemic, with 5,500 in the UK.

Its cinema in Dublin, its only venue in Ireland, had to close due to tightened Covid-19 restrictions two weeks ago, and it seems unlikely it will reopen. The planned closures will leave Cineworld with 123 cinemas across eastern Europe and Israel, where it hopes to keep venues open as those countries are benefitting from lighter coronavirus restrictions and local movies.

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Cineworld confirms: ‘We will update all staff and customers as soon as we can’

The cinema giant issued a statement after early reports sparked panic among its staff, a number of whom called out the company on social media .

“We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our UK and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached,” a Cineworld spokesperson said.

“Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”

Executives at Cineworld Group PLC, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, are reportedly preparing to write to prime minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Downden, to tell them that the industry has become “unviable”.

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