Cineworld to close 128 UK sites in weeks with thousands of jobs at risk

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The Cineworld cinema chain is expected to close its UK sites in the coming weeks.The closures come as the release of the latest James Bond film was further delayed from November to spring 2021, according to the PA news agency.

As first reported in The Sunday Times, bosses will write Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to tell them cinema has become ‘unsustainable’ as studios continue to postpone successful releases .

The shutdown of its 128 locations across the country – including five in Wales – will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk and staff have expressed anger at the way they have been treated by the company since the screens were forced to close earlier this year.

A Cineworld staff member, who did not want to be named, said he felt “betrayed”.

They told the PA News Agency: “None of us have heard a single thing yet, so my coworkers and I are kind of in a panic right now, we are wondering what’s going to happen. to our jobs – especially as Christmas approaches. ”

And Philippa Childs of the Bectu union, which represents people in the film industry, said: “If this information is true, then the first people Cineworld should tell are their staff who will suffer – not the Sunday papers.

“While cinemas have been able to open since July and the experience of those who have visited since then has been overwhelmingly positive, the harsh reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that attendance will increase to a level that makes it possible financially viable openness.

“The delay in the release of the Bond film with the other delayed releases has plunged the cinema into crisis.

“Studios will need to think carefully when considering release dates what impact this will have for the long-term future of the big screen.”

There are five Cineworld locations in Wales: one in Cardiff, two in Newport at Spytty and Friars Walk, one in Llandudno and one in Broughton.

Cineworld said in a statement: “We can confirm that we are considering the temporary closure of our theaters in the UK and US, but a final decision has not yet been made. Once the decision is made, we will notify all staff and customers as soon as possible. . ”

The head of the UK Cinema Association said he feared the shutdown of Cineworld was “indicative of the challenges currently facing the entire UK film industry”.

Phil Clapp told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House program: “While theaters opened in July and may have provided a safe and enjoyable experience without major new titles, we understand that we are not in a position to release as many people of the house that we would like.

“What we take away from a wide range of our members is that business and commerce has become increasingly difficult in recent weeks.

He added that he believes that “no one will be spared from the current challenges”.

In July, the government pledged more than £ 1.5bn to help arts and cultural industries forced to shut down earlier this year due to the pandemic.

According to the analysis of real estate advisor Altus Group, 596 cinemas in England and Wales were allowed to start their reopening processes this summer.

The British Film Institute (BFI) said it was “deeply concerned” about the impact of release delays and local lockdowns on cinemas.

CEO Ben Roberts added, “The government-backed Cultural Recovery Fund is vitally important to struggling independent theaters and we will continue to work with the exhibition industry during this difficult time.

“But there are still good reasons to visit your local theater as distributors continue to bring new independent films to audiences.”

Daniel Craig’s latest outing as a James Bond spy won’t hit big screens until next April, it was announced on Friday.

No Time To Die was originally slated for release in April 2020, but was first pushed back to November due to the pandemic.

A statement on the film’s Twitter account said, “We understand the delay will be disappointing for our fans, but now we can’t wait to share NO TIME TO DIE next year. ”

A spokesperson for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports said, “The government is supporting cinemas through reduced VAT on tickets and concessions, holiday fares and bounce loans. Independent cinemas are also eligible for a £ 30m share of our unprecedented £ 1.5bn Culture Stimulus Fund and funding has already started to flow.

“Cinemas across the country are open for business and secured by Covid.

“We urge the British public to support their local cinema and save jobs by visiting and viewing a film as directed.”

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