Cinema giant behind Edinburgh's iconic Cameo to reopen doors in May, with restrictions
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Bosses also revealed they will open cinemas in the US under its Regal brand from April 2, following six months of closure.
Meanwhile, a deal has been struck with Warner Bros that gives the cinema chain, which also owns the Picturehouse franchise that includes Edinburgh’s famous Cameo cinema, exclusive rights to show films over streaming services.
The phased reopening in the US will start with a limited number of cinemas opening for Godzilla vs. Kong on April 2, followed by screenings of Mortal Kombat from April 16.
Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theatres and restore our essential role within the communities we serve.
“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50 per cent or more across most US states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.
“We will also be monitoring developments closely in the UK and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance.”
Cineworld Group was founded in 1995 and listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange in 2007. Globally it operates 9,548 screens across 793 sites.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Cineworld will be hoping for blockbuster levels of bookings when it opens its cinemas once more, after a year of shocking losses.
“Its Regal theatres in the US are the first in the queue to reopen in April with movie fans in the UK allowed to take their seats again from May.
“After major movie studios delaying big releases, the world’s second largest chain was forced to lock up its theatres across the world, and wait for the flood of panic over the future of the industry to subside.”
She added: “The capacity of cinemas will still be reduced to 50 per cent when they reopen, which will limit the pace of the chain’s recovery as it also means that sales volumes of merchandise and refreshments will also be lower. However, there is hope that the reopening will prove to be a new uplifting scene in what has been a very sorry story for Cineworld over the past year.’’
Cineworld has reached an agreement with Warner Bros to show the studio’s films exclusively in its cinemas 31 days prior to them being made available on premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms for streaming at home.
An extended window of 45 days for films that open to an agreed-upon box office threshold has also been reached, it added.
Cinema chains have been fearful that, with the pandemic seeing studios turn to online platforms, it could set a longer term trend on new releases going straight into homes via PVOD services.
But Greidinger said: “This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.”