Shares in Cineworld drop as it conforms plan to close temporarily all its UK outlets



Shares in Cineworld slumped by 57% as markets opened today as the group confirmed plans to close all of its theatres in the UK and US temporarily.

The chain confirmed it was considering temporarily closing its cinemas, following weekend reports that it could reveal plans to close 128 sites across the country in a move that could put up to 5,500 jobs at risk.

The closure plan includes the temporary shutting of cinemas in Scottish cities and towns including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.

“We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was. “Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”

Cineworld bosses are to write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying cinema has become “unviable” as studios keep putting back blockbuster releases. Last month, Cineworld reported half-year losses of £1.3bn.

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No Time To Die , the latest Bond film, had been postponed from April to November because of the pandemic. It has now been pushed back to next April.

Other major films, including Marvel’s Black Widow and Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story, have also been pushed into next year.

Philippa Childs of union Bectu, which represents people in the cinema sector, said: “Whilst cinemas have been able to open since July and the experience of those who have visited since then has been an overwhelmingly positive one, the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.

“The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.

“Studios will have to think carefully when considering release dates about the impact that will have for the long term future of the big screen.”

The head of the UK Cinema Association said he fears the Cineworld closure is “indicative of challenges faced by the entire UK cinema industry at the moment”.

Phil Clapp told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme: “Although cinemas opened in July and have been able to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience, without major new titles then we understand we aren’t able to get as many people out of the home as we’d like.

“What we’re picking up from a broad range of our members is that business and trade has got increasingly difficult over recent weeks.”

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He added: “No-one will be untouched by the current challenges”.



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