Leading U.K. cinemas chains Cineworld, Odeon, Picturehouse, Vue and Curzon have announced they are closing theaters in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Vue revealed Tuesday afternoon that it is closing all of its cinemas until further notice. However, the business said it is “putting employment policies in place so staff are protected and not penalized financially.”
The Curzon chain also said it would close doors at the end of tomorrow, and urged audiences to watch films on its Curzon Home Cinema platform.
Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull said: “We intend to keep our current distribution slate on their published release dates and look to increase audiences through Curzon Home Cinema. Theatrical screenings will follow as and when possible. Hirokazu Koreeda’s ‘The Truth,’ starring Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, will launch this Friday on Curzon Home Cinema as planned.”
Earlier, Cineworld and Picturehouse announced they are shuttering all cinemas across the U.K. from Wednesday. Their cinemas in Ireland will be closed from Tuesday.
The Odeon cinema chain is closing its theaters today until further notice.
On the back of the closures, the U.K. Cinema Association released a statement Tuesday afternoon noting an “unprecedented” challenge for cinema workers.
Phil Clapp, chief executive of the organization, said: “Mindful of the latest scientific advice from the government, the coming days will see the closure of most U.K. cinema sites.
“The priority now is to ensure that the thousands who work in the sector, many of them young people, are helped during what will be an exceptionally challenging period for them, and that cinema venues across the country are supported to overcome what for many will represent an unprecedented challenge to their existence.”
The BFI Southbank centre has also been closed, effectively immediately. All forthcoming events and screenings at BFI Southbank have now been canceled or postponed.
So too has London’s Barbican arts and cinema center, which said it is cancelling or postponing all events until Friday 1 May, and that it will review this in coming weeks.
Independent cinema chain Everyman Cinemas have closed all of their 30 sites until further notice.
The closures government advice yesterday that people should stop going to the cinemas and theaters to help combat the spread of the virus.
Multiplex chain Cineworld has 124 sites in the U.K. and Ireland. Arthouse cinema chain Picturehouse is owned by Cineworld and has 26 cinemas around the U.K.
Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger said: “At Cineworld and Picturehouse, we are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests and have therefore made the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice.
“We deeply value our cinema-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving everyone again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters and the best of independent films and content.”
Odeon has over 100 cinemas and 850 screens in the U.K. and Ireland. Its centrepiece cinema, Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, has hosted over 700 of Europe’s biggest film premieres since the 1930s.
Odeon is owned by AMC Theaters, which announced on Monday that it will close all its theaters in the United States for six to 12 weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.