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Regal Cinemas Will Shutter All U.S. And U.K. Operations, Blames Gov. Cuomo


One of the biggest movie theater operators in the U.S. is going dark indefinitely and laying blame at the feet of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cineworld, which owns U.S. theater chain Regal Cinemas and U.K. chain Picturehouse, in addition to its own brand of U.K. theaters, announced on Saturday that it is suspending all operations in both the U.S. and the U.K. until it can be sure that it will have enough movies to show in order to make a profit, Deadline reports.

The decision came on the heels of MGM pushing back the release date for No Time To Die, the forthcoming 25th James Bond movie, from Nov. 20 to April 2, which is Good Friday and the start of 2021's Easter weekend. Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of science fiction novel Dune has also been pushed back, from this December to October 2021.

Despite the ongoing presence of the coronavirus pandemic, many movie theaters had reopened where allowed by local governments, albeit at reduced capacity and with few first-run movies to choose from. One municipality that has not allowed movie theaters to reopen is New York City, under a statewide order from Cuomo.

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger complained in an interview with Deadline that Cuomo's cinema ban (making New York and New Mexico the only two states that continue to prevent cinemas from opening at any capacity) has been both arbitrary and disruptive.

"I believe that people should understand that cinemas all over the world, and for sure in the U.S., are in a way closing down in view of Gov. Cuomo’s inflexibility," Greidinger told Deadline. "[He gave] no rationale. We received messages like 'cinema is not essential' and we fail to understand why other indoor activities are essential, but cinema excluded."

National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO John Fithian echoed Greidinger's sentiment in an interview with Variety, saying that No Time To Die's delay was directly caused by Cuomo's continuing ban on movie theaters. Fithian and Greidinger agreed that the concentration of not just moviegoers, but critics based in New York means that a major release is not feasible without including the most populous city in the U.S.

The movie theater industry is in such dire straits that major Hollywood directors like James Cameron and Martin Scorsese have implored the federal government to include cinemas in its next round of economic relief, whatever it may be and whenever it comes. Until then, Cuomo has given no indication that he will be swayed — especially with a recent surge of cases in Brooklyn and Queens that has precipitated a renewed shutdown in certain ZIP codes.