Three days after announcing plans to reduce theater attendance by 50%, Regal Cinemas announced that it will be closing all theater locations, effective March 17. The company announced the news via social media, noting that “All theatres will remain closed until further notice.”
The dramatic shift comes amid declining attendance over fears of the rapid spread of COVID-19. It also follows moves by a number of cities and states that have blocked large gatherings and all non-essential travel in order to encourage “social distancing.” The move was no doubt as much an attempt to protect public health as it is recognition that staying open simple isn’t feasible at the moment.
Regal announces closure of all theatre locations starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, as a precaution amid the current circumstances. All theatres will remain closed until further notice. Please check back soon. We look forward to serving you again as soon as possible.
— Regal (@RegalMovies) March 16, 2020
Regal currently operates 549 theaters, comprising 7,211 screens spread out over 42 States, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam and Saipan, according to its site. The company has not announced whether it has any plans to help compensate employees, nor how it will handle users with an Unlimited Pass.
AMC last week announced its own reduced operations. We reached out to the company to see if it had any plans for a full shutdown amid all of the recent news. We’ll update when we hear something back.
Movie studios, meanwhile, are reconsidering their approach for films set for a theatrical release. Notably, NBCUniversal announced that it would be releasing films like "The Hunt," "The Invisible Man" and "Emma" through on-demand services, in addition to theaters.