The shockwaves from the continued coronavirus struggle continue to ripple through the entertainment industry, with updates being provided on a nearly hourly basis. Just today alone, Universal Studios reported that key theatrical films like The Invisible Man and Trolls World Tour would be coming to on demand services. Now we are learning that Regal Cinemas is closing all locations nationwide. The closure will be indefinite.
A source told this to The Wrap, which reports that all 543 Regal Cinemas nationwide will shut down, following a recommendation by President Trump during a White House press conference that Americans limit their public gatherings to 10 people or less. That is virtually impossible in a movie theater, so the closures – while devastating – makes sense.
The move by Regals Cinemas follows similar moves made by massive theater chains like AMC Theatres to deal with the decreased attendance thanks to “social distancing” in America during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, the major chains announced that they were limiting ticket sales to 50 per auditorium. But the latest recommendation to reduce gatherings to 10 people or less seems to be too much for Regal Cinemas to endure.
This also comes on the heels of the cancelation of the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, which is sponsored by the National Association of Theatre Owners and is used to promote the upcoming slate of all of the major studios. This usually includes films programmed for the Spring and Summer, but the plans for all of those blockbuster releases have been paused, from Mulan and New Mutants to F9.
It goes to show that the repercussions of this “social distancing” will be felt in this industry for several weeks and possibly months as we look, as a global community, to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses that rely wholly on crowds gathering – from gyms and bars to restaurants and movie theaters – are being hit the hardest as they adjust to this new normal. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Just as this news was breaking, the President was suggesting in a press conference that this could last into July or August.
How is this affecting you? Are you changing your daily and weekly routines? Have you sacrificed plans to accommodate the requests to contain the possible spread of the coronavirus? And what do you think about possible changes in the distribution model of major blockbusters, to On Demand options? Could this be the wave of the future? Or temporary relief in a time of crisis?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.