Cineworld is to close all of its UK cinemas following recent delays to the release of big blockbuster movies.
Daniel Craig's highly-anticipated final James Bond outing No Time To Die had its release date pushed back again this week, moving from November 12 this year to April 2, 2021, while other major movies including F9 have also recently been postponed again.
The Sunday Times now reports that Cineworld, which has 128 cinemas across the UK and Ireland, will close all of its screens as early as this week, with up to 5,500 jobs at risk.
Cineworld had re-opened many of its cinemas in July, when hospitality lockdowns were lifted, but according to The Sunday Times it has warned that it doesn't expect audience numbers to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels until at least 2023.
The chain is reportedly writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say that the decisions by major film studios to postpone their big releases is making the cinema industry "unviable", with fewer new films available for audiences.
It is currently unclear as to what the Cineworld news could mean for Picturehouse Cinemas, which is owned by Cineworld, or when the cinemas might be able to reopen.
Representatives of Cineworld declined to comment when approached by Digital Spy.
It has been reported by Variety that Cineworld is also closing all 543 of its Regal Cinema venues in the US.
Chief executive of the UK Cinema Association Phil Clapp told The Sunday Times regarding No Time To Die's latest release delay that the announcement "is probably the most serious blow to UK cinema operators of a number of similar announcements over the past few weeks and will undoubtedly cause a significant number of cinemas to close again."
Some movies have bypassed cinematic releases completely this year, with Disney releasing its live-action Mulan on its streaming service Disney+ in many markets, including the US and UK, with a host of other films including Janelle Monáe's Antebellum and Gerard Butler's Greenland also skipping cinemas in favour of a home release.
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