04/10/2020 10:59 BST | Updated 04/10/2020 11:09 BST

Cineworld To Close All UK, US And Ireland Cinemas After Delay Of New James Bond Film

The closure of its 128 sites in Britain will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk.

Empics Entertainment
Closed bars and restaurants and empty streets on a Saturday night in Liecester Square, London.

Cineworld is closing all its cinemas in the UK, US and Ireland this week after studios pulled major releases such as the latest James Bond film.

The closure of its 128 sites in Britain will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk.

The world’s second-biggest cinema operator, which employs 37,482 people across 787 venues worldwide, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and last month posted losses of £1.3 billion.

The release of the new James Bond movie, “No Time To Die”, was pushed into next year on Friday, crushing hopes for a 2020 industry rebound as rising rates of the coronavirus prompt new restrictions and keep viewers away.

The Sunday Times said the London-listed company had written to prime minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden to warn that the industry was becoming unviable.

It warned investors on September 24 that it might need to raise more money if its sites were forced to shut again and its shares have fallen 82% this year.

In July, the government promised a package of more than £1.5 billion to help the arts and culture industries forced to shut down earlier this year as a result of the pandemic.

Cineworld had reopened most of its cinemas in July when lockdown measures were eased across the country.

Daniel Craig’s final outing as spy James Bond will not hit big screens until next April, it was announced on Friday.

No Time To Die was originally scheduled for release in April 2020, but was first pushed back to November as a result of the pandemic.

A statement on the film’s official Twitter account said: “We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing NO TIME TO DIE next year.”

Efforts to get audiences back into theatres have proved disappointing. While bigger chains like AMC Entertainment, Cineworld and others have reopened many locations, crowds have been thin.

Small and mid-sized theatre companies have said they may not survive the impact of the pandemic.

Cineworld had said viewers returned to watch “Tenet”, a Christopher Nolan spy thriller that became a test case for the wider industry when it became the biggest release to open in cinemas in late August since schedules were torn up in March.

But the postponement of Bond, plus delays to other big releases such as superhero movie “Black Widow” and Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” give cinema lovers little reason to return.

Cineworld declined to comment.