“Any time, at any Regal, it’s our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and guests,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. “At this time, we have made the difficult decision to close our theaters. We value our movie-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving them again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters.”
Regal is owned by London-based Cineworld. The move came following White House news conference telling Americans to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered movie theaters in their respective cities to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last weekend, the exhibition industry remained in operation but ticket sales in North America hit their lowest levels in more than two decades, generating roughly $55.3 million between Friday and Sunday. Box office numbers have not been this low since the Sept. 15 to 17 weekend in 2000, when movie theaters brought in $54.5 million from holdovers including Keanu Reeves’ psychological thriller “The Watcher,” “Bait” with Jamie Foxx and cheerleading classic “Bring It On.”
Prior to theater closures, AMC, Regal, Cineplex, Arclight and Alamo Drafthouse chains imposed limits on sales as a safety precaution. AMC Theatres, which has 661 locations in North America, and Regal both announced on March 13 that they would be reducing their maximum capacity by at least 50% due to the outbreak. AMC said the policy would last through April 30.
In the face of movie theaters shuttering, Universal Pictures announced Monday that it will make its movies available on home entertainment on the same day as the films’ global theatrical releases. The initiative will kick off with DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour,” which is scheduled to debut on April 10 in the U.S.
Universal will also make films that are currently in theaters available on-demand starting as early as Friday, March 20. These films include the horror movies “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man,” as well as “Emma,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel from Focus, Universal’s specialty label.