Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told CNBC on Monday that the theater chain has made the decision to close its US and UK locations because there are not enough blockbuster films released to lure attendees during the pandemic.
“Now we’re like some kind of grocery store that has no food to sell,” said Greidinger in “Squawk Alley”.
Regal Cinemas’ parent company will temporarily close its more than 500 US cinemas on Thursday, as well as its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse locations in the UK. Greidinger did not say when the locations will reopen, but right now, he said, “It̵
“It could be a month, it could be two months, until the … Covid-19 situation is clearer. Maybe there will already be a vaccination,” he said. “It might take another month, but at the end of the day, we need to have a clear list of movies before we reopen.”
Cineworld’s decision comes just days after the release of the new James Bond film was postponed again, this time to April 2021. The debut was originally scheduled for April this year before the coronavirus pandemic rocked the country. entertainment industry, leading to the closure of cinemas. production interruptions and a series of release delays.
Shares of Cineworld, trading on the London Stock Exchange, fell more than 30% on Monday. The decision by the world’s second-largest theater chain has put pressure on the shares of its main rival, AMC Entertainment, which saw its shares drop about 10% intraday.
The James Bond film’s delay wasn’t the only reason Cineworld decided to cancel its reopening in the US and UK, Greidinger said. One factor that weighs on the entire film industry – from studios to theater operators – is operating restrictions in upstate New York and California, he said.
In California, whether theaters can be opened for indoor screenings depends on the severity of coronavirus transmission, county by county. From Monday, indoor movies are not allowed in Los Angeles County, home to Hollywood.
In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sept. 16 that the state will continue to keep theaters and concert venues closed, citing concerns of an increase in Covid-19 cases, according to the Albany Business Review.
New York and California are the two largest movie markets in the United States, Greidinger said. He added that he doesn’t actually blame the studios for waiting to release blockbuster movies with those markets completely, or even partially, closed.
The challenge facing cinema operators in the US right now is a “classic” chicken or egg scenario, Greidinger said. “But here, the chicken and the egg have a trigger, and we need to get the big states back that aren’t open yet,” he said, wondering why New York allowed partial indoor dining but not theaters.
Greidinger said there has been strong participation in some European markets where great films have been released, such as Poland and Hungary. In August, he told CNBC there was initially strong demand – relatively speaking, due to capacity restrictions – when US cinemas reopened.
“People really missed cinemas and wanted to get back to the big screen,” the chief executive said on Aug.27.
On Monday, however, Greidinger highlighted the difficulty of attracting people to the theater without a blockbuster movie on the marquee. “Old people are cute,” he said. But “we need to get the great movies and the new movies back”.