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Cineworld delays reopening of United States, UK cinemas to end of July

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Cineworld (CINE.L) on Tuesday delayed the reopening of its cinemas in the United States and Britain until the end of July, citing changes to the release schedules for some of the big summer movies.

The UK-based company had previously expected to start reopening theatres, which include Regal Cinemas in the United States on July 10 but a number of important markets, such as Los Angeles and New York, have not yet given the go-ahead.

Hollywood studios have also pushed back the debut of new releases, with “Mulan” and “Tenet” for example now scheduled only for August.

Shares in Cineworld, which had lost almost three quarters of their value this year due to the coronavirus crisis, were trading up 2.8 per cent by 09.25 GMT.

The company is the world’s second largest cinema chain after AMC Entertainment (AMC.N) .

AMC has also pushed back its reopening date in the United States by two weeks to July 30.

The crisis has forced cinemas across the world to close their doors after governments imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the disease.

Even as cinemas prepare to welcome back film fans, the experience will be different as social distancing measures will be in place for the screenings.

Cineworld expects its cinemas to fill up to half capacity when they reopen.

The company, which has 7,178 of its 9,500 screens in the United States, made more than two-thirds of its overall revenue from the region last year.

AMC’s UK arm Odeon Cinemas and Premium Cinema Group Everyman Media (EMANE.L) said they planned to reopen from July 4, as Britain eased more of its restrictions.

Odeon said it would have pre-packaged food and drinks and vacant seats between guests when it reopens.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

Emmanuel Okara: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Entertainment

United States movie theatres prepare to switch the lights back on, but hurdles remain

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When the 60-person Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles opens again for the first time in months, more than a dozen seats will be filled by cardboard cutouts of James Dean, Charlie Chaplin and other Hollywood icons.

The seating arrangement, designed to encourage social distancing among the 15 real-life patrons who will be allowed into each screening, is one of the new safety measures theatres are putting in place to reduce the chance of coronavirus spread.

“We’re going above and beyond to make sure that everything is spotless and that audiences feel comfortable and safe being with us for two to three hours,” owner Christian Meoli said.

It is unclear, however, when Meoli and other theatre operators will be able to welcome back guests.

While about 780 indoor cinemas have reopened around the country, officials in Los Angeles County, the largest moviegoing market in the United States, have not yet given a green light, voicing concern about a rise in coronavirus cases.

New York City, the country’s No. 2 movie market, also has not set a date for cinema reopenings.

The theatre business has been devastated by the coronavirus shutdowns that began in mid-March, laying off tens of thousands of employees and borrowing funds to stay afloat.

The industry is hoping for mass openings in July, when nationwide chains AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Cineworld’s Regal Cinemas are scheduled to be back in business.

All plan safeguards including limited attendance, extra cleaning and face masks for guests and workers.

Walt Disney Co has said it will roll out action epic “Mulan” on July 24. AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros. had been set to follow with director Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” on July 31, but the studio postponed the debut until Aug. 12.

More shuffling of the schedule could come, depending on the progress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, the first widely released film on Hollywood’s schedule is “Unhinged,” a road rage drama starring Russell Crowe, set to debut on July 10.

Crowe said he was encouraged to hear reports that moviegoers have been longing to head back to cinemas, especially for thrillers.

“They wanted to be back in that place, in that safe place, in that room, where all the craziness is just happening on the screen, not necessarily in their own lives,” Crowe said in an interview.

In Los Angeles, movie fans had mixed opinions about heading back to theatres.

“I’m a big cinema-goer, so for me, it would be just to make sure that social distancing is in place” along with other steps such as pre-packaging of concessions, said Sean Thomas, an accountant visiting from Chicago.

“That would make me feel comfortable.”

Others were not so eager.

“You can watch movies at home, so I don’t think that’s super essential,” said screenwriter Matt Solsberg.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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