Regal Cinemas to shut down all U.S. theaters temporarily as coronavirus pandemic rages

The curtain is going down at Regal Cinemas.

The second-largest movie theater chain in the United States announced Monday that it will be temporarily shuttering its more than 500 theaters around the country beginning Thursday.

“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," Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal’s parent company Cineworld, said in a statement.

“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.”

Regal operates 536 theaters across the United States, but the company, like others, has struggled this summer as governors kept cinemas closed as part of the coronavirus shutdowns.

With most people staying home, major summer blockbusters have either been postponed, like “Black Widow,” “In The Heights,” “West Side Story” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” or pivoted to streaming services or on demand, like “Mulan” and “Hamilton.”

Regal Cinema theaters will shut down Thursday.
Regal Cinema theaters will shut down Thursday.

Regal Cinema theaters will shut down Thursday. (Jae C. Hong/)

A few tentpole features still remain on the 2020 schedule, including “Wonder Woman: 1984” and “Dune.”

Cineworld’s decision to shut down comes just days after the upcoming James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” was pushed back from Nov. 20 to April 2.

James Cameron’s “Tenet,” one of the only major movies to open in theaters since March, was a domestic box office disappointment, bringing in just $45.1 million so far as of Sunday. Internationally the thriller has fared better, crossing the $300 million mark this weekend.

But Greidinger also laid specific blame on New York, where theaters have not yet been allowed to reopen, and went as far as to send a letter to Gov. Cuomo several weeks ago imploring him to reconsider his restrictions, a source told the Daily News.

“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," Greidinger said in a statement Monday.

"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.”

Movie theaters in California, the second largest U.S. market, only recently began reopening under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines.

About 45,000 Cineworld employees are expected to be affected by the shutdown, but it’s unclear if they are being furloughed or laid off.