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Odeon to open weekends-only at some cinemas

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Odeon is cutting the opening hours for some of its cinemas in the UK and Ireland to weekends only because of delays to new film releases.

The chain, which operates 120 theatres, said it will affect a quarter of its cinemas, which will now open between Friday and Sunday.

Odeon, which employs 5,500 people, declined to comment on job cuts.

It comes as Cineworld said it will temporarily close its UK and US venues, affecting 45,000 jobs.

According to movie magazine Film Stories, Odeon emailed customers to tell them that from Friday 9 October it was temporarily reducing hours at some cinemas "in light of the ongoing delays to the release of many new films".

The changes announced by Odeon and Cineworld come after the release of the new James Bond film was delayed again.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to return to cinemas. He said would "encourage people to go out to the cinema, enjoy themselves and support" movie theatres.

However, the cinema industry has been hit by an absence of blockbuster movie to lure in customers.

Cineworld employs around 5,500 people in the UK and its chief executive Mooky Greidinger, said: "We did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionNo Time to Die, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, will now be released in 2021

The company did not give a date for reopening its 663 cinemas, which include 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK.

Mr Greidinger said the company "cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was" to close the sites.

"Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen," he said.

'One woman was crying'

image copyrightRosalyn Lloyd
image captionRosalyn Lloyd has worked at Cineworld for nearly two years

Rosalyn Lloyd, 30, found out that her job at a Cineworld theatre in Wolverhampton was under threat from social media at the weekend.

And she still doesn't know if she'll get a wage this month.

"We've been told nothing at all," Ms Lloyd told the BBC. "When I went to work yesterday, everyone had seen it on social media [and] everyone was down in the dumps which is understandable.

"One woman was crying because she'd been there for nine years."

Ms Lloyd has worked at Cineworld for nearly two years and was placed on furlough earlier this year, though she says because she is on a zero-hour contract the pay was "very low".

Her immediate problem is a lack of information from Cineworld.

"Are they still going to pay us at the end of October? We just haven't heard anything at the moment. We all are waiting for a call - it is a waiting game."

Bond delay 'final straw'

"No Time to Die", which is reportedly actor Daniel Craig's final outing as 007, is a key movie release that had been due in cinemas in April this year, but was then postponed until November because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The release date has now been moved to April next year.

"I think the Bond movie is the straw that broke the camel's back to be honest," said Robert Mitchell, director of theatrical insights at Gower Street Analytics.

"A lot of films have been moving for some time now and ultimately the cinemas need a pipeline of regular content to draw cinema goers in," he told the BBC's Today programme.

Cineworld front in Leicester Square, London
AFP / GETTY
Cineworld

Operates in 11 countries: US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Israel, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia

  • 2ndbiggest cinema chain in the world

  • 663cinemas closing in the US (536) and the UK (127)

  • 45,000jobs at risk, 5,500 in the UK

  • 27%fall in share price at London stock market opening

  • 007The delay of the new Bond film release triggered decision

Source: BBC, Cineworld

While Christopher Nolan's film Tenet opened at the end of August, Mr Mitchell said there had not been a major release since.

"Bond was really the one that UK exhibitors were really relying on more than any," he said.

Shares in Cineworld plunged in early trading, down 27% at 28.74p each.

'We have no movies'

Tim Richards, founder and chief executive of the Vue cinema chain, said the company had put safety measures in place at its theatres and noted there was "pent up demand like we haven't seen ever before" among customers to go out.

However, he added: "Our problem right now is we have no movies and this [the delay to the Bond film] was a big blow for us."

"We are likely going to make it through," Mr Richards said, adding that Vue's goal is to try to keep as many of its 5,500 workers as possible.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionTenet, a film by British director Christopher Nolan, was the most recent big box office release

Mr Mitchell said he had forecast previously that UK box office takings would reach £500m this year.

"The Bond move obviously shaves a lot off that," he said. "And now that Cineworld is closing and we don't know when it will be reopening, it might be a struggle to get over £400m."

Mr Richards said that outside the US, many cinemas had now re-opened. "Looking globally right now, 75% of screens, maybe as high as 80% of screens are open.

"Even if you look at the numbers that Tenet generated in the UK it is going to get very close to Christopher Nolan's previous film Interstellar, maybe 80-90% of what it did.

"The audience is there and I think what we are seeing is the US studios in particular are taking a very US-centric view and forgetting that 80% of global box office comes offshore from North America."

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  • Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay