(NEWS10) — Regal Cinemas has announced that they are temporarily suspending operations at all of their more than 500 movie theaters across the country, including theaters in the Capital Region. They also announced their locations in the United Kingdom would also close.
Movie theaters in New York State have been closed since March when the coronavirus pandemic struck the state. But the decision to remain closed is causing a ripple effect within the movie industry itself and will likely continue to impact area malls and other businesses.
Regal released a statement Monday:
In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld, parent company of Regal, today announced that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S., as of Thursday, October 8, 2020.
“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S.– from putting in place robust health and safety measures at our theatres to joining our industry in making a collective commitment to the CinemaSafe protocols to reaching out to state and local officials to educate them on these initiatives. We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was,” said Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld.
As major U.S. markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release its pipeline of new films. In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the U.S. and U.K. – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of COVID-19. These closures will impact approximately 40,000 employees across the U.S.
Greidinger added, “Despite our work, positive feedback from our customers and the fact that there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas, we have not been given a route to reopen in New York, although other indoor activities – like indoor dining, bowling and casinos were already allowed. The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us. As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”
Regal will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations at the appropriate time, 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.
Ken Thewes, Chief Marketing Officer for Regal, told NEWS10 ABC’s Anya Tucker that the decision to suspend operations was based on two main issues: a shift in movie release dates and key market closures, namely in New York State.
“Quite frankly, we can’t understand why [New York] will let other industries open but not let the movie theater industry open,” said Thewes.
Thewes places much of the blame on Governor Andrew Cuomo for what he calls a lack of guidance on reopening. He said the majority of Regal’s 536 theaters across the country have safely reopened during the pandemic.
But, without the New York market — which includes 40 theaters — he said the studios are reluctant to release their blockbuster movies.
“The latest decision was by MGM, who felt they had to move “No Time To Die,” their latest Bond movie from November to April. Again, because of New York, and they really need New York to help recoup the cost of these movies that are quite expensive to make.”
The closures go into effect Thursday, and Thewes said many employees nationwide are being furloughed. In the Capital Region, the closures impact several locations, including theaters at Colonie Center, Crossgates Mall, Aviation Mall and Rensselaer County Plaza in East Greenbush.
John Nigro owns Rensselaer County Plaza. He spoke with NEWS10’s Anya Tucker by phone. He told her that he has not seen a ripple effect in a loss of foot traffic to shops and eateries, but he is concerned for malls that are more enclosed.
“You know, moviegoers tend to stroll the mall, maybe do some shopping. Probably the impact on closed malls would probably be much more significant than in what we call our open-air commercial centers.”
“We will survive, we will press on, but we have a lot of difficult decisions to make,” Thewes said.
Thewes said his Regal Theaters would be ready to reopen should that be allowed in the near future in the Empire State.
Anya reached out to Governor Cuomo’s office for a response to Thewes’s comments. His senior advisor sent this message:
“We’re moving heaven and earth trying to stop a second wave and people need to acknowledge that we’re still in a pandemic and start to act like it. We understand some people are unhappy but you know what? Better unhappy than sick or worse.”Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo
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