June 30, 2020 / 6:48 AM / 12 days ago

Cineworld delays U.S., UK cinema reopenings to end of July

LONDON (Reuters) - Cineworld (CINE.L) on Tuesday delayed the reopening of its cinemas in the United States and Britain until the end of July, citing changes to the release schedules for some of the big summer movies.

FILE PHOTO: General view of an empty cinema foyer at Cineworld in Hemel Hempstead as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in Hemel Hempstead, Britain, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

The UK-based company had previously expected to start reopening theatres, which include Regal Cinemas in the United States, on July 10, but a number of important markets, such as Los Angeles and New York, have not yet given the go-ahead.

Hollywood studios have also pushed back the debut of new releases, with “Mulan” and “Tenet” for example now scheduled only for August.

Shares in Cineworld, which had lost almost three quarters of their value this year due to the coronavirus crisis, were trading up 2.8% by 0925 GMT. The company is the world’s second largest cinema chain after AMC Entertainment (AMC.N) .

AMC has also pushed back its reopening date in the United States by two weeks to July 30.

The crisis has forced cinemas across the world to close their doors after governments imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the disease.

Even as cinemas prepare to welcome back film fans, the experience will be different as social distancing measures will be in place for the screenings.

Cineworld expects its cinemas to fill up to half capacity when they reopen.

The company, which has 7,178 of its 9,500 screens in the United States, made more than two-thirds of its overall revenue from the region last year.

AMC’s UK arm Odeon Cinemas and premium cinema group Everyman Media (EMANE.L) have said they plan to reopen from July 4, as Britain eases more of its restrictions.

Odeon said it will have pre-packaged food and drinks and vacant seats between guests when it reopens.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Muvija M; editing by Sarah Young and Keith Weir

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