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Odeon, Vue and Cineworld shut UK cinemas due to coronavirus


Story by Jack Foley

CINEMA chains Odeon, Cineworld, Vue and Picturehouse are shutting all of their UK screens in line with government advice surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people to avoid public venues such as theatres, pubs, clubs and other similar venues.

Cinema UK, which represents the industry, said “most UK cinema sites” would close in the coming days following the government advice, with even smaller chains – such as The Light – also confirming their intention to close.

The move also follows the decision by theatres in London’s West End and around the UK to close, while many concerts have been called off.

Odeon has more than 120 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, while Vue has 91 and Cineworld has 100. The latter company also runs 24 Picturehouse sites.

The BFI’s Southbank complex has also been shut.

In a statement, Cinema UK said: “The priority now is to ensure that thousands working in the sector are helped during an exceptionally challenging period for them, and that UK cinema venues are supported during what, for many, represents an unprecedented challenge to their existence.”

While an Odeon spokesperson told the BBC: “In line with the latest government guidance on Covid-19, we are temporarily closing our cinemas. We will continue to monitor the situation and look forward to welcoming back guests as soon possible.”

Cineworld Group chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “At Cineworld and Picturehouse we are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests and have therefore made the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice.

“We deeply value our cinema-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving everyone again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters and the best of independent films and content.”

The decision to close cinemas in the UK is in line with moves made by cinemas across Europe and in the US. It is a logical choice given government advice to the public on avoiding large social gatherings.

But it also follows the decision by several major film distributors to delay the release of their bigger titles, with the likes of James Bond adventure No Time To Die, franchise favourite Fast & Furious 9 and Disney’s Mulan and Marvel’s Black Widow among those titles already moved.

What’s more, Universal Pictures has said it will start making its movies available on home entertainment on the same day as the films’ global theatrical releases, starting with the family animation Trolls World Tour, which is due out next month (April 2020).

The company will also make films that are currently in cinemas available on demand, starting as early as this week. This would include such titles as The Invisible Man and Emma.

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