COVID-19 shutters movie theater chain | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | |

Local Blogs

By Tim Hunt

COVID-19 shutters movie theater chain

Uploaded: Oct 6, 2020

The COVID-19 challenge continues to reverberate in the economy.

Last week, the Disney Co. announced it was laying off 28,000 employees, partially because California, unlike Florida, has not allowed any theme parks to re-open. In Florida, Disney reported that demand has been below expectations even with the reduced capacity and built-in social distancing.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Regal Cinemas nationwide would go dark Thursday. Theaters in some states had been able to re-open with capacity limitations, but there have been almost no new releases from the movie studios. Studios have been delaying releases since the shutdown began and keep pushing them out. The latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die” was originally scheduled for an April debut that was then pushed back to November and now is set for April 2021. Regal is the second largest theater chain in the country with 543 sites.

For the restaurant/entertainment hub at Hacienda Crossings shopping center in Dublin it’s more challenging news. The restaurants are open for takeout and outdoor dining, but the draw of the 20-screen plus IMAX movie complex has been gone since March. Movie making has resumed in some states, but who knows how long it will take before there’s a stream of new movies ready for release. Last month, the company reported it lost $1.6 billion in the first six months of 2020.

And then you’ve got to mix in the big unknown of how many people are willing to return to big gatherings, regardless of social distancing. It was interesting over the weekend to watch college football games in the South where there were fans present. One school had tested all the students so that section wasn’t socially distanced, but there was plenty of space between fans in other stadiums I saw.

It was a far cry from the normally packed stadiums for SEC games, but it was a signal of how life in some states is moving a bit more back toward normal in contrast to states like California where re-opening has moved quite slowly. Monday afternoon I tuned in Golf Channel to see a collegiate golf tournament for men and women in Fayetteville, AK. The teams were all from the South. The Pac-12 finally relented for a seven-game football season starting in November, but other sports such as golf are still on hold.