Cineworld Delays Reopening U.K. Cinemas, Regal Theaters Following ‘Tenet’ Date Shift

Manori Ravindran

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UPDATED: AMC Theatres-owned Odeon stays the course for July 4 reopening of U.K. cinemas. Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” has moved its U.K./Ireland release to July 31.

Cineworld is pushing back the reopening of its U.K. and Ireland cinemas from July 10 to July 31. The new date also applies to the firm’s U.S. chain Regal Cinemas.

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The business is the first of the U.K. cinema chains to delay reopening following the second date shift for “Tenet.” AMC Theatres-owned Odeon has since confirmed to Variety that it will maintain plans of reopening from July 4. A spokesperson said, “Our plans to begin a phased reopening of our U.K. cinemas from July 4 remain in place.”

The Mooky Greidinger-run Cineworld confirmed its new target on Tuesday, just days after Warner Bros. pushed back the release date for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” for a second time, from July 31 to Aug. 12. Off the back of “Tenet’s” delay, Disney also moved “Mulan’s” release from July 24 to Aug. 21, while Sony moved “Broken Hearts Gallery” by three weeks to Aug. 7.

A statement from Cineworld reads: “In line with recent changes to upcoming film release dates, we have made the decision to move our re-opening date to July 31. We hope that we will be able to re-open the doors of all Cineworld cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland at that time, subject to U.K. government restrictions. With the on-going pandemic, this new date remains subject to final confirmation.

“We know how much you’ve been missing the cinema and we are excited to welcome you back to Cineworld soon! With great films ahead, including ‘Mulan,’ ‘Tenet,’ ‘A Quiet Place Part II,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and many more, we can’t wait to be back.”

The U.K. government confirmed last week that cinemas are allowed to reopen from July 4. Odeon said it would open doors that day itself, while Cineworld and Vue were set to open a week later on July 10.

Vue, which planned to reopen on July 10, has yet to decide on a new reopening date. Variety understands a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, including the release of films such as Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged,” which was originally set to roll out on July 17 in the U.K. but has now been moved to July 31, as well as the very real possibility that “Tenet” could be delayed for a third time.

Exhibitors — many of whom have taken advantage of government-led furlough programs — also need to consider how and when to take staff off these programs.

Around 450 films have been made available to U.K. exhibitors when they reopen, including a remastered 4K version of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” “Trolls World Tour” and a handful of new domestic films, but the main attraction for cinema-goers is undoubtedly new releases such as “Tenet” and “Mulan.”

The latest shift for “Tenet” followed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that movie theaters in his state would not be included in Phase 4 of reopening. Without cinemas in New York City and Los Angeles back in business, the big-budget action epic would have been deprived of two of the U.S.’s biggest moviegoing markets. As parts of the U.S. have begun to reopen, some states have seen massive spikes in infection rates.

In the U.K., a second wave of infections has yet to fully emerge, though new cases are expected as the country looks to ease up on lockdown restrictions for businesses such as pubs and restaurants in the next week.

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