First reported by The Sunday Times, Cineworld will temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks, putting 5,500 jobs at risk. The closure was announced after the upcoming James Bond film, No Time To Die, was delayed again until Spring 2021.
The postponement of the next Bond film leaves many cinemas in dire financial situations. The new film, starring Daniel Craig and co-written by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was anticipated to match the success of previous Bond film Spectre. Spectre made over £80 million at the UK box office in 2015, paving the way for No Time To Die to be a cinematic hit also. This delay will be a major blow to cinemas, which had recently re-opened in anticipation of the film’s release and brought staff back from furlough schemes.
Cineworld, which has over 128 theatres across the UK and Ireland, has written to PM Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say that the industry has become “unviable” because of the decision to postpone one of this year’s biggest releases. Despite the setback, it is hoped that Cineworld’s closure will be temporary, allowing cinemas to reopen next year.
Cineworld re-opened its doors in July after a four-month shutdown, having pushed its opening date back after “Tenet” was delayed the first time around. It is reported that Cineworld staff are currently being asked to accept a redundancy package in the hopes of being able to recommence work next year once they have reopened. Leading film lawyer Nick Miller commented on the widespread closures, outlining that it is “a huge problem for cinemas in the short term as Bond joins the list of other event films postponed until 2021.” Miller added: “The decision to postpone further is easy to understand with further lockdowns and restrictions in place or imminent in the UK and other key international markets.”
However, where does this leave other cinemas in the UK? The Bond delay is a major blow, and there is a chance more theatres across the UK and Ireland could be forced into a similar situation given the lack of new releases on the horizon. The next theatrical release isn’t expected until 20th November and will see Disney’s Pixar’s “Soul” take to the big screen.