Regal Cinemas confirms plans to close all 500 of its US theaters in a move that will affect 40,000 employees as the pandemic ravages the movie industry

A Regal Cinemas remains closed during the coronavirus pandemic on May 3, 2020 in New York CityRob Kim/Getty Images
  • Regal Cinemas on Monday said it was closing 536 US theater locations because of a lack of new releases.
  • The closings will affect 40,000 Regal employees.
  • Movie theaters remain closed in the US's two largest cities as coronavirus case numbers continue to increase.
  • Shares of Regal's parent company, Cineworld, plunged 40% in trading Monday after the announcement.

With virtually no new movies to show at its theaters — and a coronavirus outbreak that shows no signs of slowing — Regal Cinemas on Monday confirmed earlier reports that it would shutter all of its US locations beginning Thursday.

Regal is the second-largest movie-theater operator in the country behind AMC. The closing will affect roughly 40,000 US employees, the company said, and there's no word on when theaters might reopen.

Shares of Cineworld, Regal's parent company, plunged as much as 40% after Monday's announcement. In a press release, executives pinned the closings on a lack of new film releases. It also sought to separate stubbornly high COVID-19 case numbers in the US from its decision.Advertisement

"Despite our work, positive feedback from our customers, and the fact that there has been no evidence to date linking any COVID cases with cinemas, we have not been given a route to reopen in New York, although other indoor activities — like indoor dining, bowling, and casinos were already allowed," CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a press release.

To be sure, many initial studies have found that the virus spreads more quickly indoors, where ventilation may not be as strong as outside. Because of restrictions designed to curb the virus' spread, theaters, restaurants and bars, hotels, and airlines have all been among the most significantly affected industries by the pandemic.

Spiking case numbers in New York City, once the US epicenter of the outbreak, have led officials to reintroduce restrictions on indoor dining and in-person schools this week. Movie theaters also remain closed in Hollywood's home of Los Angeles. The two cities are the country's largest cinema markets.
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The US on Sunday reported more than 34,000 new confirmed cases, a number slightly below its seven-day average of new cases, which has been increasing.

"This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the US," Greidinger continued. "We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theaters to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was."
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