EXCLUSIVE: For all the headlines today that everything is coming up roses with exhibition after Pfizer’s good news about a COVID-19 vaccine, Regal Cinemas, will shutter the 18 locations the chain left open in New York and California, effective Thursday. Those sites will stay closed now with the rest of the U.S. chain until further notice. We’re getting word from a number of distribution sources about Regal’s recent closings as they’ve received an official note from the chain. When Deadline reached out to Regal, we received no response.
Despite closing down the entire chain last month, Regal kept seven California sites open thereafter, including its newly refurbished Irvine Spectrum, which was a top grossing venue for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
Following New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s greenlight for movie theaters to reopen, Regal went ahead and turned the lights on at 11 sites in the Empire state on Oct. 23. Now, three weeks later, those will close down.
I hear that Cineworld made a go at reopening their cinemas in New York given how tough they were on Cuomo about reopening cinemas. On Oct. 9, Regal’s 42nd Street Cinema in New York City admonished Cuomo’s reluctance to open movie theaters with the marquee’s digital strip blaring, “48 states have reopened theatres safely. Why not New York, Governor Cuomo?” Now, I hear, Regal is telling distribution that they have to close down their 18 sites due to the lack of a robust theatrical release schedule, the same excuse they used last month. Many sources tell me that’s a mistake: It will cost the chain more to reopen and sends all the wrong signals to customers about whether cinemas have reopened.
And, you see, that’s why there’s no reason to have a skip in your step yet about exhibition today. With the outlook of the Christmas holiday box office season being non-existent, how can we get excited? Europe’s closure pulls the curtains on any hope of New York or Los Angeles seeing a revival, even if they were to get the OK to reopen.
Once we see cases going down, a vaccine at work, and studios sticking to big tentpole releases with gargantuan P&As, that’s when we can whistle “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”.
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