Britain's largest cinema chain, Cineworld, will close all its U.K. venues after the postponement of the new James Bond film left a big hole in theaters’ schedules, U.K. media reported Sunday.
The Sunday Times reported that Cineworld’s 128 theaters in the U.K. and Ireland will shut indefinitely in the coming weeks, putting up to 5,500 people out of work.
The newspaper and other outlets reported that Cineworld plans to write to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying cinema has become “unviable” because studios are postponing blockbuster releases because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cineworld did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Staff said they had not been informed or consulted.
“If these reports are true, then the first people Cineworld should be informing are their staff who will suffer as a result -- not the Sunday newspapers,” said Philippa Childs, head of the entertainment workers’ union BECTU.
British movie theaters began to reopen in July, but Childs said “the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.”
Producers said last week that the 25th James Bond thriller, “No Time to Die,” due to open in November, is being delayed until April 2021 because of the effect of the pandemic on theatrical business.
Other major studios have made similar decisions over the past few weeks. Universal has delayed “Candyman” to next year, and the Walt Disney Co. has postponed a handful of major movies to 2021, including Marvel’s “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”