Cineworld ‘may shut all of its 128 cinemas’ as industry hit by coronavirus pandemic
Cineworld may shut all of its 128 cinemas in the UK and Ireland after the industry was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cinema giant is reportedly planning to write to Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, to say that the industry has become “unviable”.
It comes after the new James Bond film, which would have attracted many cinema lovers, has been delayed for a second time until the spring.
Sources familiar with the discussions told The Sunday Times that Cineworld could close all its UK sites as early as this week, putting 1,500 jobs at risk.
The chain, which reopened most of its cinemas in July, warned last week that it did not expect admissions to recover to pre-Covid levels until at least 2023.
Cineworld will reportedly ask employees to accept redundancy, with possible incentives to rejoin the company when theatres reopen – probably next year.
But Cineworld Action Group, which represents employees, claimed workers have not been warned of the possible closures.
The group tweeted: “The front page of tomorrow’s Times is announcing that Cineworld is planning to close all of its cinemas across the country as soon as this week putting all of our jobs at immediate risk.
“There has been no consultation with staff whatsoever.”
Cineworld is believed to be “on the brink” after shares dropped by 2.5 per cent, according to The Sun.
It had already lost £1.3billion globally due to the virus and cut entry to £4 to coax back punters.
No Time to Die, starring Daniel Craig, was due to hit UK cinemas on November 12, but on Friday MGM and Britain’s Eon Productions said the film would be pushed back to April next year.’
The delay will be another blow for the film industry, which has been struggling since the first lockdown in March.
Jane Crowther, editor of Total Film, told The Sun on Sunday: “I’m massively surprised by this decision.
“It’s a disaster for UK cinemas and it will cost them, conservatively £50million in the short run. They’ll hope to make the money back next April but who knows how many cinemas will still be open then to show it?”
A source said: “Cineworld were very hopeful the Bond movie would be their saviour in these difficult times. Bosses will be very worried about the firm’s future.”
Mirror Online has contacted Cineworld for comment.
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