Cineplex announced late Monday afternoon it has made a decision to temporarily shutter all of its cinema properties across Canada — the latest major business to close due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The closure is in effect beginning March 16 and ending on April 2, at which point Cineplex will reassess the feasibility of reopening its locations.
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The company has over 160 theatre locations across Canada. Its Rec Room and Playdium entertainment attractions are also affected by the closure.
Last week, Cineplex said it had implemented enhanced cleaning protocols to reduce the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19 in its properties. However, new directives by the public health officials and government officials led to this decision out of an “abundance of caution.”
A press release on the temporary closure also highlights Cineplex’s obligation to abide to the terms and conditions of its December 2019 agreement to be acquired by UK-based Cineworld.
This $2.8-billion acquisition could possibly be in jeopardy; the blanket temporary closures strategically reduce the company’s financial losses amidst the significant drop in attendees, but the potential for a prolonged closure could impact Cineplex’s ability to satisfy the conditions before the June 30, 2020 deadline.
“The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada and the rapidly evolving reaction of governments and the public to the outbreak have made business planning uncertain for the exhibition and location-based entertainment industries,” reads the release.
“In response to declining attendance and certain government directed shutdowns of places of public gatherings including theatres, Cineplex is managing its business to reduce expenses in an amount necessary to offset declining revenues so that Cineplex is supporting its business and would be in a position to satisfy the Debt Condition.”
The agreement stipulates Cineplex’s adverse impact from global events cannot have a disproportionate effect on the company relative to other comparable movie theatre businesses.
Approval of the acquisition is still being considered by the federal government under the Investment Canada Act, with the period of the review extended through the end of March.
Some of the 2020’s most anticipated films were scheduled for release in the Canadian and US markets over the coming weeks, including Disney’s Mulan on March 27, 20th Century Studios’ The New Mutants on April 3, and Marvel Studios’ Black Widow on May 1. Mulan and The New Mutants have already been delayed, and the same is expected for Black Widow.
Universal Pictures’ No Time To Die, the 25th movie in the 007 James Bond film series, was originally scheduled for a release in April, but it has been pushed to November. It also shifted Fast and Furious F9 from this May to April 2021.
Paramount Pictures had originally planned for a March 18 release of John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II. The studio is now aiming for a new release date later in the year.
Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway featuring James Corden was originally set to be released on April 3, but it has since been moved to August 7.
The last major theatrical release was Disney Pixar’s Onward, which has only grossed $102 million worldwide since it was released on March 6, including just $2.7 million on Sunday.
With coronavirus on the rise, Health Canada is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.