Regal Cinemas to reopen some U.S. theaters in April

For nearly half a year, its 7,211 screens and 549 theatres in the U.S. have been dark. Doors will open early next month with attendance limited to 25% to 50% capacity in about 500 locations.

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Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen beginning April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday.

Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen beginning April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

NEW YORK — Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen some of its locations on April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday.

Regal sites in California, New York and Texas are among the theaters. No reopening plans have been announced for the chain’s Illinois locations, which include City North and Webster Place in Chicago, Cantera in Warrenville and multiplexes in Lincolnshire and Lake Zurich.

Regal had been one of most notable holdouts in the gradual reopening of cinemas nationwide. For nearly half a year, its 7,211 screens and 549 theatres in the U.S. have been dark. When doors open early next month, attendance will be limited to 25% to 50% capacity in about 500 locations.

Cineworld also agreed to a new multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Beginning next year, the studio’s releases will have a 45-day exclusive window at Regal cinemas, roughly slicing in half the traditional period. That doesn’t apply to Warner releases this year, which are streaming simultaneously on HBO Max when they open in theaters.

“We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros.” said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Cineworld. “This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.”

Regal’s April 2 reopening closely follows the March 31 release of Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

The agreement is the latest in a reordering of the theatrical marketplace — a sea change accelerated by the pandemic but viewed as long-in-coming by some analysts given the rise in streaming services.

Universal Pictures last November agreed to deals with AMC and Cinemark — the first- and third-largest chains — to shrink the theatrical window to 17 days, or three weekends. Greidinger at the time said the company didn’t see “any business sense” in that model.

In the United Kingdom, where Cineworld is targeting a May reopening, the Warner agreement shortens the theatrical window to 31 days but can be extended to 45 days if a film reaches a certain box-office threshold.

About half of North American theaters were open as of last week, according to data firm Comscore. In the past few weeks, theaters have been allowed to reopen in New York and Los Angeles — the two largest U.S. markets — for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets,” said Greidinger.

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