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UPDATE 1-Cineworld to close all UK, Ireland screens, Sunday Times says

Sun, 4th Oct 2020 01:03

(Adds company not immediately available to comment, details
from Sunday Times report, background)

Oct 3 (Reuters) - Cineworld, the world's
second-biggest cinema operator, is set to close all its screens
in the United Kingdom and Ireland as soon as the coming week,
London's Sunday Times reported on Saturday.

The Regal cinema owner will be writing to British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden over
the weekend to say the industry has become "unviable" because of
the decision of film studios to postpone big-budget films, the
newspaper said.

The new James Bond movie, "No Time To Die," became the
latest blockbuster to be pushed into next year as the movie
industry struggles to get back to business amid the coronavirus
pandemic.

Cineworld was not immediately available to respond to a
Reuters request for comment late on Saturday.

The company, which started reopening its sites from July,
runs a total of 128 theatres and 1,180 screens in the United
Kingdom and Ireland.

Cineworld is expected to announce its plan, which could put
about 5,500 jobs at risk, as soon as Monday, the report added.

In September, the company said it was excited about the
release of upcoming films in 2020, including "No Time To Die,"
superhero movie "Black Widow," and Steven Spielberg's "West Side
Story," though it cautioned that further push-back of film
releases could impact its performance.

"If Governments were to strengthen restrictions on social
gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate
again or further push back movie releases, it would have a
negative impact on our financial performance and likely require
the need to raise additional liquidity," the company said last
month.

The release of "Black Widow" and "West Side Story" has also
been delayed until 2021.

Efforts to get audience back into theaters have proved
disappointing. While bigger chains like AMC Entertainment
, Cineworld and others have reopened many locations,
crowds have been thin. Small and mid-sized theatre companies
have said they may not survive the impact of the pandemic.
(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel
Wallis and Paul Simao)

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