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SYFY WIRE Regal Cinemas

Regal movie theaters to temporarily close as industry hit by more coronavirus delays

By Jacob Oller
Regal movie theater

After the news that No Time to Die would be delayed until 2021 broke last week, theater chains had flashbacks to earlier this year when COVID-19 threatened to keep films out of theaters for months on end...and then ended up keeping them out far longer because the virus remains largely out of control in the United States. Without in-person movies, theaters are having a tough time staying in business...and 007 was a light at the end of the tunnel for many of them. Now one theater owner in particular has clarified that they will be shutting down their theaters for the time being.

Speaking to Deadline, Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger explained why his American Regal and British Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters were closing. Greidinger blames some of this on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as New York and Los Angeles are the two giant U.S. markets that have yet to give the greenlight to movie theaters because of safety concerns.

"The Governor allows in-restaurant dining, bowling alleys, casinos and others, but he will not allow cinemas," Greidinger said. But in addition to those claims, there was also the whole No Time to Die thing. When asked if Cineworld planned to close before its delay, he replied, "No. But it’s not fair to put the whole thing of the closure on Bond — Bond was just the last straw."

While there are no plans for these theaters to permanently close or sell, the timeline for their reopening is still up in the air. Now it's a matter of waiting until big movies are going to be regular features for in-person moviegoing. There can't just be Wonder Woman 1984, but "we need to have a clear lineup of movies after that."

"It needs to be a situation that the studios are saying, 'It is safe enough to go back and this is our release schedule.' The COVID situation needs to stabilize and we need to have a clear schedule of movies ahead," before reopening can happen, according to Greidinger. That means "most of the employees will go on furlough or unpaid leave" indefinitely. Until then, film fans must simply stay safe and prevent the spread of the pandemic if they want to help theaters reopen quickly.

Without Daniel Craig's last hurrah as James Bond, the only studio films on the theatrical docket are Pixar's Soul (Nov. 25), 20th Century Studios' Free Guy (Dec. 11), and Warner Bros.' Dune (Dec. 18) and Wonder Woman 1984 (Dec. 25). Though, of course, those could always be delayed in the coming weeks and months, all depending on the pandemic.