The UK’s largest cinema chain is to start reopening its UK picture houses in May 2021 after closing all 127 venues seven months earlier when it said there weren’t enough new movies for audiences to enjoy.
Cineworld Group Plc said its US Regal theatres will reopen in April as the start of a phased reopening with a limited number of cinemas showing Godzilla vs Kong on April 2 and going wider with Mortal Kombat on April 16.
Cineworld then plans to reopen in the UK, its second biggest market, in May, in line with current Government guidance.
The chain, which operates Plymouth city centre’s £53million Barcode multiplex, brought the curtain down in October when it blamed film companies of being reluctant to release new movies.
Two subsequent UK lockdowns have since occurred, which would have prevented cinemas opening anyway, but now the UK Government’s roadmap to reopening says indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas can reopen from May 17.
“We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theatres and restore our essential role within the communities we serve,” said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Cineworld.
“With the health and safety of our customers, staff, and communities as our top priority, we continue to take all the necessary precautions and abide by our CinemaSafe guidelines to confidently provide a safe and comfortable experience.
“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most US states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.
“We will also be monitoring developments closely in the UK and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance.”
In addition, Cineworld has reached a multi-year agreement under which films from Warner Bros Pictures Group will be exhibited in Cineworld’s cinemas in the US as of their opening.
Beginning in 2022, Warner Bros. Pictures Group theatrical releases will have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity, with certain provisions.
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As for the UK, Warner Bros and Cineworld have agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of 31 days prior to PVOD (premium video on demand), and an extended window of 45 days for films that open to an agreed upon box-office threshold.
“We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros,” Mr Greidinger added.
With a slate of films scheduled to release this spring and summer, Regal will welcome back audiences after an extended closure in response to what Cineworld called “an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape”.
With its reopening, Regal will once again operate as one of the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuits in the US.
“This is a great moment for us– the US market represents 75% of our business– and soon will be followed with all our markets. We are great believers in the theatrical experience, which only a year ago (2019) generated US$43B worldwide,” Mr Greidinger said.
“We have no doubt that by offering our customers the highest level for watching a movie, Cineworld and Regal will continue to be the best place to watch a movie.”