Cineworld confirms plans to temporarily close all UK and US cinemas with 45,000 jobs under threat

Company to suspend operations from Thursday after new James Bond film becomes latest to be postponed due to Covid-19

Ben Chapman
Monday 05 October 2020 14:16 BST
Cineworld to temporarily close cinemas

Cineworld has confirmed plans to temporarily close all of its cinemas in the UK and US after the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, became the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 45,000 jobs, including 6,000 in the UK, are affected by the move, which caused Cineworld shares to plunge by more than half on Monday.

Cineworld’s boss, Mooky Greidinger, said the company would have been “like a grocery shop with no food” after studios delayed the release of several big-budget movies.

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

In a stock market announcement on Monday, the company blamed the continued closure of cinemas by authorities in major US markets like New York, which has prompted studios to hold back their new films.

“In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of Covid-19.”

Cineworld raised doubts about its future after reporting a £1.3bn loss in a disastrous first half of the year during which its 663 cinemas were forced to close during lockdown.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Mr Greidinger said: “Many significant movies have moved, like Mulan, like Black Widow, like KingsmanWonder Woman moved from October to December – and on Friday we got the news that the Bond movie, that, needless to say, for the UK is the biggest movie of the year, also decided to move.

“From a liquidity point of view, we were bleeding much bigger amounts when we are open than when we are closed … we would be like a grocery shop with no food – we had to take this decision.”

He said the company's 45,000 affected employees “know how important they are to us – we see our employees as a big family, we are very proud of them”.

He added: “In order to secure their place of work, we have to take this measure now. I hope they will be supported by all kinds of government plans.”

Boris Johnson acknowledged there would be “tough times ahead” in the jobs market following the Cineworld announcement but encouraged people to go to the movies.

The prime minister told reporters in central London: “Obviously we hope to reduce, to keep the numbers of people who lose their jobs down as much as we can, but clearly there are going to be tough times ahead.

“That’s why we’ve already invested £190bn in supporting jobs, livelihoods around the country.

“Supporting local cinemas – I think we’ve already put £30m in, but what I would say to people is that local cinemas do now have ways of making their shows go on in a Covid-secure way, and I’d encourage people to go out to the cinema, enjoy themselves and support those businesses.”

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