The film industry is set for a major blow as UK cinema chain Cineworld is expected to file for bankruptcy.
Cineworld is the second-largest cinema chain in the world and operates 751 cinemas across 10 countries, including Regal Cinemas in the United States and Picturehouse cinemas in the UK.
A dramatic downfall of attendance figures is being blamed on the impact of Covid-19 and a lack of major blockbusters in the next few months.
102 UK cinemas are under threat after the company landed £4 billion of debt by the end of the last financial year. On Wednesday, the company’s shares fell to its lowest level ever, slumping as much as 61% on the day.
Cineworld nearly declared bankruptcy back in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic when many of its global venues were closed.
Reduced ticket sales are expected until the end of the year, with several major blockbusters (Aquaman 2, The Flash) pushed back to 2023, and other guaranteed hits like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water not arriving until the last two months of 2022.
Cineworld has engaged lawyers and consultants to advise on the bankruptcy process, insiders told The Wall Street Journal.
Movie lovers have taken to social media to express concern that their local cinemas could soon be switching off the big screens for good.
‘Well this Cineworld news isn’t good. Hope my local Cineworld doesn’t close down,’ one film fan tweeted.
Another wrote: ‘Awful news about Cineworld today… hope that the cinemas can remain open in the UK and preserve the jobs for those working for the chain.’
Other customers were concerned that they would lose out on the Cineworld Unlimited membership that allows people to see as many films as they want for a monthly fee.