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Odeon is to shut a quarter of its cinemas during the week as a dearth of Hollywood blockbusters and the second wave of coronavirus keeps movie-goers at home.
Odeon, which operates 120 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, has contacted members of its Limitless loyalty scheme to say that some of its venues will move to a weekend-only model from this Friday.
The decision to shift to Friday through Sunday opening, which sources say was made before the announcement that the release of the latest James Bond film would to be delayed until next April, comes as rival Cineworld moves to temporarily shut all of its cinemas in the UK and the US, affecting 45,000 staff. A spokesman said that some venues will open from Thursday through Sunday.
Odeon, which is owned by AMC Theaters, the world’s largest cinema chain with more than 1,000 outlets, blamed the lack of almost any new films.
“We look forward to reopening full-time when the big blockbusters return,” the company said in an email to customers. “But in the meantime, we promise to bring you a great choice of big-screen films to enjoy at the weekends.”
Tim Richards, the chief executive of the cinema chain Vue, told Sky News his company was looking at “all options”, including temporary closure of some of its venues.
Richards said the goal was to retain all 5,500 UK staff. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re likely going to make it through. We came into this a very strong industry. We just need to make it through the next three or four months where there are no movies.”
Cinema owners are stuck in a grim cycle as distributors and studios hold back the release of high-profile films, from the next instalment in the Fast & The Furious franchise to Marvel’s Black Widow, owing to concerns audiences would not go to see them because of the coronavirus.
Confidence in cinema-going was dealt a further blow when Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, one of the few blockbusters to stick with a big screen release, failed to meet global box office expectations. Disney has opted to bypass cinemas altogether, pulling Mulan from schedules via the Disney+ streaming service instead.
In the past week, the top 10 films in cinemas in the UK and Ireland made less than £2m at the box office. Last year, an average week notched up £24m.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Quarter of Odeon cinemas to open only at weekends | Business