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Regal closing movie theaters; others remain open for now

Updated October 5, 2020 - 1:45 pm

James Bond has saved the world many times over. He just couldn’t save moviegoing.

At least not at Regal theaters.

Following a weekend of rumors, Cineworld announced Monday it was temporarily closing all 536 Regal theaters in the U.S. as of Thursday.

The move was spurred by “No Time to Die,” the next Bond adventure, abandoning its Nov. 20 domestic release in favor of an April 2 opening. With movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles remaining closed, studios have been delaying their releases until more people can see them.

“The prolonged closures have had a detrimental impact on the release slate for the rest of the year, and, in turn, our ability to supply our customers with the lineup of blockbusters they’ve come to expect from us,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in a statement. “As such, it is simply impossible to continue operations in our primary markets.”

Regal is the valley’s largest theater chain, but local competitors have indicated plans to remain open.

Cinemark, the No. 2 chain here, operating under the Century banner, said in a release that it has no plans to shutter its domestic theaters, but it may continue to reduce operating hours and days.

Galaxy Theatres, the valley’s third-largest chain with locations at Boulevard Mall, the Cannery and in Green Valley, already had adjusted its hours on weekdays, with the first features starting in the afternoons rather than the mornings. Reached Monday, Galaxy president Rafe Cohen said the company plans to remain open on a daily basis.

When theaters began looking to reopen following their nationwide shutdown in March, their plans were tied to the release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” As Warner Bros. delayed its opening, hoping for rosier COVID-19 news, theaters followed suit. When “Tenet” finally opened Sept. 3, it was intended to reignite moviegoing. The movie underperformed in the U.S., having grossed just $45.1 million so far, and studios pushed their releases to later in 2020 or summer 2021.

With the “No Time to Die” move, the only would-be blockbusters left in 2020 are Disney/Pixar’s “Soul” (Nov. 20), “Free Guy” (Dec. 11), “Coming 2 America” (Dec. 18) and “Wonder Woman 1984” (Dec. 25). After bouncing around the calendar, the latter had been set for an Oct. 2 release.

The news was mixed Monday as the sci-fi epic “Dune” moved from Dec. 18 to Oct. 1, 2021. The Ryan Reynolds action comedy “Free Guy,” though, released a new trailer confirming its Dec. 11 opening.

As a sign of just how bad the North American box office has been, the second-most-popular movie this weekend was “Hocus Pocus,” the 1993 comedy starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as witches.

“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable reopening in the U.S.,” Cineworld’s Greidinger said. Approximately 40,000 Regal employees will be affected.

Regal operates the theaters at Aliante, Boulder Station, Colonnade, Downtown Summerlin, Fiesta Henderson, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Palace Station, Red Rock Resort, Sunset Station, Texas Station and Village Square.

Cinemark, under its Century banner, has the theaters at Orleans, Sam’s Town, Santa Fe Station, South Point and Suncoast, as well as the Cinedome in Henderson.

AMC, the nation’s largest theater chain, which can be found at Town Square and Rainbow Promenade, hasn’t yet indicated its plans.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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