Cineworld Group-owned Regal Entertainment, the second-largest movie theater chain in the U.S., is closing all its locations nationwide after movie studios delay big-ticket movies, reports the Wall Street Journal.

What Happened: Cineworld operates the second-largest movie theater chain on a global basis, as well as the U.S. after AMC Entertainment Holdings. After opening theatres partially in August, the company has decided to suspend 127 theatres in the United Kingdom and Ireland and more than 500 locations in the U.S, as per the Journal.

The pandemic-led crisis has kept movie-goers out of cinema halls, which has forced major movie studios to postpone big-budget Hollywood films, most recently the James Bond title “No Time to Die” by MGM Studios.

“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat. We cannot operate for a long time without a product,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger.

Some Hollywood studios like Walt Disney and Comcast have experimented with releasing the movies online on streaming platforms or on digital-rental platforms.

Why It’s Important: North America is the world’s largest theatrical market, grossing more than $11 billion each year since 2015 as per the Journal.

Due to varying state and local guidelines, only two-thirds of domestic theaters are able to open.

The movie calendar for the remainder of 2020 looks empty after Warner Bros. and Disney shifted release dates for 10 titles.

The cinema owners’ trade group and leading filmmakers had sent a letter to lawmakers in September, seeking financial relief for the movie theatres.

“If the status quo continues, 69% of small and midsize movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said.

Benzinga’s take: Cineworld’s move is anticipated to weigh on the decisions of other theater operators such as AMC, Cinemark Holdings, Marcus, IMAX, and Reading International. More of these companies temporarily shuttering their operations wouldn’t be surprising.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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