Cineworld to reopen US cinemas next month
Cineworld is to reopen its US cinemas for the first time in six months in April as states begin to relax pandemic restrictions and Hollywood blockbusters return. The UK-based group said a phased reopening of its Regal movie theatres would begin on April 2, with a limited number opening in time for the Warner Bros film Godzilla vs Kong.
The reopening in the US would be followed by UK cinemas in May as authorities loosen lockdown. It is the first time that Cineworld has opened cinemas in its two largest markets since it closed its US and UK screens in October, citing a lack of blockbusters to show as Hollywood shifted releases into 2021. The world’s second-largest cinema operator on Tuesday said it had secured an exclusive rights deal with Warner Bros.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cineworld will be able to show the studio’s films in movie theatres for six weeks before they can be released on Warner’s on-demand streaming service. Pre-pandemic, the standard release window for films was about 10 weeks.
Cineworld’s reopening announcement came a day after the new director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the US could suffer “another avoidable surge” in coronavirus cases if measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing were not followed.
Upon reopening, cinemas will be subject to varying restrictions across the states but Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive, said that with capacity restrictions on cinemas increasing to 50 per cent in many places, Cineworld would be able to operate profitably.
Recommended News in-depthTravel & leisure industry Mooky Greidinger ‘a cinema guy over and out’ Cineworld’s rival AMC last week said it aimed to have 99 per cent of its US screens open by this Friday. Cinemas in the UK will also be restricted to a 50 per cent capacity limit when they reopen from May 17.
Cineworld came close to collapse in November but secured an extra $750m funding from lenders after emergency talks. It has also cut its monthly cash outgoings to about $60m after negotiations with landlords. Analysts at Peel Hunt warned that cinemas might not enjoy the same post-lockdown boost as pubs and restaurants as consumers craved social occasions more than sitting in front of a screen. But Greidinger remained bullish:
“This is a great moment for us — the US market represents 75 per cent of our business — and soon will be followed with all our markets.” “We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theatres,” he added.