Cineworld: British industry reacts to cinema closures


Cineworld’s shocking decision to temporarily shut down all UK and US cinemas in order to exit the pandemic has shaken the industry at its heart and endangered the livelihoods of thousands on both sides of the Atlantic. Cineworld employees say they don’t deserve to pay the price for the company’s failed efforts to reopen, and they are angry at how their employer has kept them largely in the dark.“Most people were looking at the news when they found out, ‘Oh wait, I lost my job,’” says one employee. Variety. “I have to go to work the next few days, while watching the barrel of no money for Christmas.”

At the same time, exhibitors insist the move sends a clear, albeit blunt, message to studios and independent distributors. It’s hard to keep the rooms open when there is nothing to show.

When [‘No Time to Die’] went on Friday, we all knew we were screwed, ”says a senior Cineworld source familiar with the situation. “Everything that was in our heads [was finally happening]and since there is nothing else on the schedule, we just started making plans.

News of the Mooky Greidinger-run company shutting down all 127 UK and Irish cinemas leaked on Saturday evening, with the vast majority of the exhibitor’s 5,500 UK employees learning of their potential job losses on social media. The news – which also affects all Regal theaters in the United States, as revealed Variety – sent shock waves throughout the industry. “Bond was a big blow to everyone,” says an exhibition manager. Odeon, backed by AMC Theaters, has downsized its screens to a weekend-only model for 25% of its 120 theaters, and multiplexing channel Vue is believed to be considering its options as well.

“We have been at the mercy of distribution and now we have to take a stand,” explains the source of the show, who notes that Cineworld is “lagging” but losing money quickly. “The distributors played us. We opened the theaters, we did our best, and 10 minutes before a movie comes out, they shoot it. Now we have to say, ‘Until you get the movies on the schedule and we know they’re going to stay, we can’t go on.’

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said he saw his staff as “one big family”, but the company had “reached a stage with no alternatives.”

“We have prepared very [well] with all safety precautions, and at the start we had a very warm welcome, ”said Greidinger of UK cinemas reopening from July 31st and Regal US from late August . “But at some point, we didn’t have the goods.” The Israeli executive blames American politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for failing to reopen New York’s crucial film market – a factor helping to discourage studios from unleashing their tentpoles.

Some UK distributors who released films during the pandemic also point out that their peers could have done more. “Cineworld is closed, but that might not have been the case if we had seen more mid-range films released in the past three months. It would have supported the company, ”said Hamish Moseley, managing director of Altitude Film Distribution, which released the Russell Crowe thriller“ Unhinged ”in late July.

Cineworld accounts for around 25% to 35% of the mainstream film market share with full theatrical release under normal circumstances. “Cineworld was the biggest cinema chain [‘Unhinged’]. If they had closed by then, or if they had not reopened, it would have had a huge effect on crude, which is now close to £ 2million. [$2.6 million]”Moseley says.

On the back of Monday’s news, distributor Studiocanal confirmed that ‘Saint Maud’ would air nationwide on Friday – “We are committed to giving audiences the chance to see this film on the big screen, by supporting the British film and helping to ensure UK cinemas receive new content, ”one says in a company statement – but in the future there will be a trickle-down effect that will pose“ a problem for everyone, ”Moseley warns.

For Cineworld workers, however, the damage is already done. Staff, who are now awaiting some form of redundancy offer from their employer, believe the move is a “big kick in the teeth” for a workforce that has shrunk. determined to reopen the company’s theaters this summer.

“We did everything we could and everything that was asked of us!” mourns a 47-year-old reception staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“For Mooky to go on TV and talk about how we’re all a family?” None of us buy it. If we were a family, we would get information before the press and our jobs would be guaranteed no matter how long we were shut down. Mooky left the company with no money and we are the ones paying for his lack of judgment.

Cineworld staff have no official union support. Variety understands that some workers, rallied by the tireless action group Cineworld, join the entertainment union Bectu on an individual basis, but ultimately, Bectu cannot support them collectively. Instead, the union is lobbying the UK Cinema Association to put pressure on the movie chains as well as the government. It is understood that the industry organization is holding crisis talks on Monday evening.

A 20-year-old London-based employee sees the indefinite shutdown as the end of the line for most workers. Morale has been low since March, they say, when just days after the shutdown due to COVID-19 government advice, Cineworld informed a large number of reception staff that they would be made redundant, to return quickly back when a holiday program has been introduced. .

“They made us feel so exhausted. The first time, they did it in the blink of an eye, and it happened again, ”says the front desk clerk, who came to London from the west of England at 18 to write a scenario.

“This work was like a stepping stone. For someone who loves cinema and the media it was a really nice atmosphere to work, ”they said. “Now I’m 20, lost my job and may have to move.”

Naman Ramachandran contributed to this report.


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