It’s no secret just how devastating the effect on cinemas has been during COVID-19. However, the second-largest cinema chain in the world ‘Cineworld’ has also had a massive debt to contend with. Its ever-increasing scale brought into question as cinema operators closed their doors back in March. After all, Cineworld has expanded well beyond its foundations, buying Regal in the United States, followed by a negotiated buy out of Cineplex in Canada; the deal collapsing in April, with potential legal action against Cineworld yet to come. This had led to increasing debate in recent months over the cinema chains future, despite there being little comment from the company itself.
However, The Sunday Times is now reporting that Cineworld is planning to close all of its UK and US screens as soon as next week. The decision prompted by the further delay of James Bond to April 2021. This would result in over 500 screens in the US and 1,180 screens in the UK and Ireland falling silent. But, what is far more concerning is the report that staff will be ‘let go’ with an option to re-apply for their jobs in the future! That’s 5,500 jobs in the UK and Ireland.
If true, this points to significant financial problems at the heart of the Cineworld operation, with the move of Bond a mere smokescreen for ensuring the company survives the next six months. Its staff taking the hit, while the board try to steady the boat; a staff team that has already suffered greatly during the lockdown. But could this also point towards the possible break up of the giant? The answer to that question is currently shrouded in mystery, but the future certainly does not look bright.