Regal Cinemas has decided to close all of its theaters nationwide until further notice amid the coronavirus outbreak. Starting tomorrow, March 16, Regal theaters across the United States will shut down indefinitely, according to Deadline, making the company the first out of the three major chains in the country to temporarily cease operations.
“Any time, at any Regal, it’s our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and guests. At this time, we have made the difficult decision to close our theaters. We value our movie-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving them again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters,” said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld CEO, in a statement to Deadline.
The decision to close their doors was seen as a business-savvy move on Regal’s part. Many state governments are ordering bars, restaurants, and theaters to shutdown to limit crowds from gathering in public places where the coronavirus can quickly spread from person to person. Many of the major Hollywood tentpole movies have been delayed, and current theatrical releases are already seeing lower box-office returns due to people opting to stay home and self-quarantine.
On the official Regal Cinemas Twitter account, they issued a statement saying they would suspend all payments for Regal Unlimited members until their theaters reopen. Several people in the comments section of their tweet asked for clarification on memberships that were paid in full in advance. Many users are hoping the company will extend their contracts to ensure they don’t lose months after paying for them ahead of time.
Recently, both Regal Cinemas and AMC issued statements saying they were going to enact new “social distancing” measures in response to the outbreak. They instituted a rule that all theaters would only sell 50 percent of their tickets so that audience members would not have to sit next to each other.
Now the chain has opted to take things a step further by shutting down altogether. For the moment, AMC theaters are still operating under their new social distancing regulations.
The decision for Regal Cinemas to shut down, for the time being, is just one of many unprecedented measures taken by the entertainment industry in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Universal Pictures is moving several of its major theatrical releases to on-demand release so people can view the movies at home by renting them for a suggested retail price of $19.99 apiece. The current films scheduled for home video include The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma.