Cineworld Group’s Regal Entertainment Holdings said it will temporarily suspend operations at all its American and British movie theaters as crucial sales from expected fall and winter blockbuster movie releases like the next James Bond epic have been scuttled by the coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s second-biggest cinema chain said in a statement it will shutter 536 Regal theaters in the U.S. as well as 127 of its U.K. locations this Thursday. The closure affects roughly 45,000 employees.
Regal’s decision to suspend operations follows a cascade of postponements for big-budget Hollywood films, most recently the James Bond title “No Time to Die.” MGM Holdings said Friday that it was delaying the film for the second time to next April. It had initially planned to release the film last April, but postponed to November.
Cineworld “cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was,” CEO Mooky Greidinger said in the statement. Cineworld will aim to reopen “when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”
Cineworld's stock, which trades on the London exchange, has declined roughly 88% so far this year.