Cineworld, the UK's biggest cinema chain, has announced today that they will be closing all 128 of its cinemas in the UK and Ireland putting over 5,000 jobs at risk. They were hoping that the latest Bond film, No Time to Die, would be somewhat of a lifeline for the UK Cinemas. But now that 007's latest film has been delayed until April 2021, it appears they've been left with no other option.
According to The Sunday Times, the firm will be writing "to Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, to say that the industry has become “unviable” because of the decision by film studios to postpone big-budget releases." With Cineworld being the second largest cinema operator in the world and largest in the UK, this could be the final nail in the coffin for an already struggling industry.
"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." - Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of UK Cinema Association.
It is hoped that the Cineworld Cinemas will be able to reopen Spring of next year. Staff have been asked to accept redundancy in the hope of rejoining the company again when they re-open. BBC has also revealed that Cineworld's sites in the US, where they operate 546 sites, may also be closed down. This September the firm did in fact announce a $1.6 billion (£1.3 billion) loss for the six months to June as cinemas worldwide were forced to close due to Corona Virus restrictions being imposed to slow the spread.
Philippa Childs of the entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu, said that "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."
Of course with this news, we can't help but wonder if Vue Cinemas and Odeon will also be following suit. The BBC approached both chains for comment. Vue refused to comment on how many venues they would be keeping open and Odeon have yet to respond.
Rob Arthur, an industry analyst at cinema strategists The Big Picture, said "the current market is broken" and that Cineworld putting their UK operations "into hibernation" made sense.
"It has been a very challenging year both for Cineworld, and the world's largest cinema group AMC. Film release schedules are being changed on a daily, never mind weekly, basis. It has been a catastrophic, devastating, year for operators. You can't keep meeting the fixed operating costs of electricity, gas, air conditioning, staff, social distancing measures, and so forth when audience numbers are only a small percentage of what they were before. Meanwhile, customer confidence in visiting cinemas has to be restored and I don't see that at the moment."
Me personally, I'm honestly gutted. I've worked in partnership with Cineworld previously and had a blast doing so. For any of you who managed to get to the Cardiff venue will remember the actual screen-used Annabelle Doll from the films made an appearance to meet fans opening weekend of Annabelle Comes Home. And of course this is a huge blow for an industry that has been slowly on the decline over the last few years with the rise of streaming and VOD services. I really hope they can save the chain and its venues as I think this could really be the final nail in the coffin, I don't think the cinema industry will recover from this if Cineworld close completely. And I really don't care what anyone says...some films need to be seen on the big screen to really be experienced and appreciated.