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After 007's Delay, Regal Closes 500 Theaters

A woman wearing a face mask walks past an image of James Bond actor Daniel Craig in a shop window in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in April. (Sergei Supinksy/AFP via Getty Images)
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James Bond usually can be counted on to save the day. But when MGM delayed the release of the next 007 film, “No Time to Die,” one of the nation’s biggest chains said it had no choice but to padlock more than 500 domestic theaters.

Theater owners were banking on the Daniel Craig spy story to drive people back to the multiplex. Its release already had been postponed to November, but now “No Time to Die” won’t come out until next April — a full year after it was supposed to.

Cineworld, the company that owns the Regal movie theaters, said the delay was the last straw. With no new major studio movies set to hit theaters before December, Cineworld said it was closing all of its American Regal theaters, just two months after they reopened. Cineworld also is shuttering more than 100 cinemas in the United Kingdom.

Due to varying government restrictions, not all Regal venues were open — theaters remain closed in Los Angeles and New York.

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“No Time to Die” was just the latest major studio release to ditch a planned theatrical release, following the disappointment performance of “Tenet,” which was released a month ago.

Over the last few days, the release dates for “Wonderwoman 1984,” “Candyman, “Black Widow” and “West Side Story” have all abandoned their theatrical releases, almost all for next year.

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told the Wall Street Journal:

"We are like a grocery shop that doesn't have vegetables, fruit, meat. We cannot operate for a long time without product."

Following Regal’s decision to close its domestic theaters, the stock prices of all the big movie chains plummeted today, and some may not have enough cash to make it.

In a letter sent last week to Congress, the National Assn. of Theater Owners, some top Hollywood labor unions and directors like “Tenet’s” Christopher Nolan, “Avatar’s” James Cameron, “Wonder Woman’s” Patty Jenkins and “Little Women’s” Greta Gerwig all asked for federal relief for theater owners.

NATO estimates that nearly 70% of small- and mid-sized theater chains could face bankruptcy soon, costing tens of thousands of people their jobs.

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