Updated: Two York cinemas to close as part of Cineworld hibernation

5 Oct 2020 @ 12.27 pm
| Business

Two York cinemas will close as part of an international shutdown by global giant Cineworld.

The 13-screen Cineworld complex at the community stadium, and City Screen off Coney Street – part of the Picturehouse group, which is owned by Cineworld – are among 127 sites to close temporarily.

Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets.”

On Friday, the release of Bond film No Time To Die was delayed for the second time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The film was meant to hit cinemas in November, but fans will now have to wait until April 2 next year before seeing Daniel Craig’s final outing in the role.

The movie joins other potential hits which have been delayed by the pandemic.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Greidinger said: “Many significant movies have moved, like Mulan, like Black Widow, like KingsmanWonder Woman moved from October to December – and on Friday we got the news that the Bond movie – that, needless to say, for the UK is the biggest movie of the year – also decided to move.”

He added: “From a liquidity point of view, we were bleeding much bigger amounts when we are open than when we are closed … we would be like a grocery shop with no food – we had to take this decision.”

Thousands of jobs hit

The IMAX cinema at Cineworld, York. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Cineworld said: “Without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of Covid-19.”

Around  5,500 staff will be hit by the closures. Mr Greidinger said Cineworld will wait until “the appropriate time” to talk about reopening.

Cineworld only opened its huge cinema at the York community stadium in December.

The 13-screen venue created 80 jobs.

City Screen in York. Photograph: YorkMix

According to reports, most Cineworld staff will be asked to accept redundancy, with possible incentives to rejoin the company when theatres reopen — likely to be next year.

Last month Cineworld revealed half-year losses of £1.3 billion.

At the time the group warned: “There can be no certainty as to the future impact of Covid-19 on the group.

“If governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity.”

Vue Cinemas chief executive Tim Richards told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his company has also taken a hit.

“We’ve tried to retain all of our jobs for the 5,500 employees we have in the UK and that’s still our goal,” he said.

“We’re going to try and find a way through this. This was an industry that was not broken.”