UPDATE: Cineworld officially announced this morning that they are “temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters in the U.K. from Thursday, 8 October 2020.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Theaters around the country and world closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The blockbusters that filled their screens were postponed as most of the globe went into lockdown. The chains instituted new safety measures and cautiously reopened at the end of the summer in time for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. But then Tenet underperformed at the box office, and the pandemic continued to threaten many parts of the United States. Almost all the movies planned for the weeks after Tenet moved back to Christmas or later. Last week, No Time to Die, which had been scheduled for a major worldwide release this November, suddenly announced it would now come out in April.

It seems as if that release was the lifeline that some theaters have been clinging to since Tenet. And now it is gone. Now Variety reports that one of the world’s largest theater companies, Cineworld — the owner of Regal Cinemas in the U.S. — is planning to close all sites in both countries as early as this week, with staff notified ahead of Monday.” Cineworld is the biggest owner of theaters in the United Kingdom; Regal is the second-biggest chain in America behind AMC. The article says cinemas “ could stay closed until 2021.”

Movie theaters and movie studios need each other, and their symbiotic relationship is becoming an increasingly self-destructive one. Audiences are already understandably cautious about returning to theaters during a pandemic that spreads easily in enclosed spaces. Meanwhile there have been no major releases since early September. There’s no movies to see, so no one goes to the movies, so the studios don’t want to release any movies because no one is going. They keep pushing things back to 2021 or 2022. Meanwhile, exhibitors are bleeding money, paying rent, paying staff, paying for concessions and cleaning, when no one is coming. It’s quite possible that many theaters could go out of business altogether. By the time the studios are ready to release these movies... where will people go to watch them? It’s like watching the business version of The Human Centipede, with these entities inextricably tied together, killing one another.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going to the Movies:

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