Shortly after Los Angeles and New York City shut down all movie theaters, Regal Cinemas, one of the largest movie theater chains in the U.S., is shutting down all of its theaters across the country. This comes as the coronavirus situation has escalated dramatically in recent days. The shutdown will take effect on Tuesday, March 17 with all of the exhibitor’s 543 locations set to close their doors temporarily. It isn’t known currently how long the closure will last.
This comes as the White House strongly recommended that people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people amidst the growing coronavirus outbreak. Previously, Regal, AMC Theaters and other chains had begun doing staggered seating in auditoriums to help prevent people from coming into contact with one another during movies. The companies had also been taking extra measures like disinfecting theaters after each show. But with the government declaration, things have changed.
Regal is the second-largest theater chain in the U.S. and is owned by Cineworld. It’s expected that other theater chains will close their doors as well, which will echo what has happened in China, as the country’s theaters have been shut down for weeks. Theaters across Europe and Asia have also closed as well in an attempt to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. CEO Mooky Greidinger had this to say in a statement.
This will provide a massive blow to the entertainment industry, which has already been hit particularly hard. Global box office numbers have tanked in recent weeks, with this past weekend’s box office numbers proving to be truly abysmal, reaching a 20-year low. Additionally, an increasing number of big, upcoming releases have been delayed. No Time to Die, A Quiet Place: Part II, Peter Rabbit 2, Mulan, The New MutantsAntlers and The Lovebirds have all had their release dates pushed back, with other major movies, such as Black Widow, expected to follow. The theater shut down could force the hands of studio executives who have been resisting.
Stock prices for theater chains have dropped significantly in recent weeks. These closures are expected to worsen things on that front. Meanwhile, Universal recently announced that it will be making new releases, such as The Invisible Man and Trolls: World Tour, available to rent via on-demand from home for $19.99. Theater closures could also encourage rival studios to make similar moves. Regal will update on the status of the closure via its website and app. We will be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops.