COVID-19

With fewer coming attractions, more cinemas are closing

Jasmine Garsd Oct 5, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A Regal Cinemas movie theater stands closed in Manhattan last month. The movie theater chain's parent company Cineworld announced it would close theaters in the U.S. and U.K. temporarily. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

With fewer coming attractions, more cinemas are closing

Jasmine Garsd Oct 5, 2020
A Regal Cinemas movie theater stands closed in Manhattan last month. The movie theater chain's parent company Cineworld announced it would close theaters in the U.S. and U.K. temporarily. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Over the weekend, Cineworld — which Americans know as Regal Cinemas — announced closures of its U.K. and U.S. theaters.

Cineworld has said it’s a temporary move. But many in the film industry wonder: Without new blockbuster films to show, and with once again rising COVID-19 infection rates, how much longer can movie theaters possibly survive?

You could call it a chronicle of a death foretold. For months now there have been warning signs that many theaters will have to shut down. The anti-hero in this story? Bond, James Bond. And we won’t be getting to it until next year. On Friday, MGM announced the release of Bond’s new movie is being postponed until 2021. 

That was pretty much the last-standing big blockbuster for this year.

Shortly after, Cineworld announced temporary closures in the U.K. and the U.S. That’s 40,000 jobs at risk in the U.S.  

Michelle Greenwald, a professor with the Columbia Business School, said the theater closures will also hit nearby coffee shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors — all of which are likely to suffer if screens stay dark.

“It’s clearly gonna have a domino effect. So it’s bringing people to malls where people are spending money, bringing people to main street where people are spending money,” Greenwald said. “I don’t even think that’s being counted into the economic impact.”

And with Cineworld closing its Regal theaters here in the U.S., other theater chains may soon close too, said USC professor Gene Del Vecchio.

“Without content, and being so dependent on content, it was simply a matter of time before theaters were going to run into trouble, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” Del Vecchio said.

But while things are looking bleak for cinemas, he said, Hollywood could be just fine without them. Premiering on streaming services, like Disney did with “Mulan,” is paying off so far during the pandemic

Straight to video used to be almost an insult. These days, it might just be the only way to do business.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.