CEO of Regal Cinemas owner on closing cinemas during pandemic

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Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told CNBC on Monday that the movie chain has made the decision to shut down its locations in the US and UK because there weren’t enough blockbuster movies released for it. attract participants during the pandemic.”We’re now like a kind of grocery store that has no food to sell,” Greidinger said on “Squawk Alley.”

The parent of Regal Cinemas will temporarily close its more than 500 US theaters on Thursday, as well as its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse locations in the UK. wait. ”

“Maybe a month, maybe two months, until the… situation regarding Covid-19 is clearer. Maybe there will already be a vaccination, ”he said. “It may take a month longer, but at the end of the day we need to have a clear list of movies before we reopen. ”

Cineworld’s move comes days after the release of the latest James Bond film was pushed back again, this time to April 2021. It was originally scheduled to debut in April this year before the coronavirus pandemic upset the world. entertainment industry, leading to movie theater closures, production shutdowns and a host of production release delays

Shares of Cineworld, which trade on the London Stock Exchange, fell more than 30% on Monday. The move by the world’s second-largest theater chain put pressure on the shares of its main rival, AMC Entertainment, which saw its shares fall around 10% intraday.

The delay of the James Bond film was not the only reason Cineworld decided to cancel its reopening in the US and UK, Greidinger said. One factor weighing on the entire film industry – from studios to theater operators – are operating restrictions in New York State and California, he said.

In California, the ability to open theaters for theatrical screenings depends on the severity of the transmission of the coronavirus, county by county. As of Monday, theatrical movies are not allowed in Los Angeles County, home to Hollywood.

In New York City, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said on September 16 that the state would continue to shut down theaters and concert halls, citing concerns about 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 didn’t really blame studios for waiting to release blockbuster movies with those markets fully, if not partially, closed.

The challenge facing movie theater operators in the United States today is a “classic” chicken or egg scenario, Greidinger said. “But here the chicken and the egg have a trigger, and we need to reclaim the big states that are still not open,” he said, wondering why New York City allowed dining but not the movie theaters.

Greidinger claimed that there had been heavy attendance in some European markets where major films were shown, such as Poland and Hungary. In August, he told CNBC there was initially high demand – relatively speaking, due to capacity restrictions – when US theaters reopened.

“People really missed the theaters and wanted to come back to the big screen,” the CEO said on August 27.

On Monday, however, Greidinger highlighted the difficulty of getting people to the theater without a hit movie on the marquee. “Old people are nice,” he said. But “we have to get the big movies and the new movies back”.

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