A trip to the cinema has long been a favourite venture for many – whether it’s a date night or a family day out – but this pastime looks under threat thanks to COVID.

Odeon is the latest in the cinema chains to announce emergency measures – after Limitless card members were emailed to say that a quarter of cinemas will be moving to weekend only operating hours. Odeon operates 120 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, and those affected will now only open Friday to Sunday.

In an email to customers, Odeon said: “We look forward to reopening full time when the big blockbusters return. But in the meantime, we promise to bring you a great choice of big-screen films to enjoy at the weekends.”

Cineworld confirmed they would be temporarily closing all of their venues in the US and the UK over the weekend, saying there aren’t enough big films opening in the coming weeks for opening to remain viable. It could mean up to 45,000 job losses, including over 5,000 in the UK, across Cineworld and Picturehouse venues.

Cineworld boss Mooky Greidinger told Sky News today: “From a liquidity point of view, we are bleeding much bigger amounts when we are open than when we are closed. We are like a grocery shop with no food. We had to take this decision… People are saying to us that they feel safe in the cinema, so I guess it is a wrong decision by the studios to move the movies in such a way.”

The release of the new Bond film No Time To Die was delayed further on Friday, after execs pushed it back to April 2021. Other big releases that have been delayed include the next instalment in the Fast & The Furious franchise, Marvel’s Black Widow, and Disney’s Mulan was released on Disney+ instead.

The news about Odeon comes the same day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that the public should go back to the cinema:

The top 10 films in cinemas in the UK and Ireland made less than £2m at the box office over the last week. An average comparable week in 2019 would have seen earnings of up £24m.

Vue cinemas are now said to be assessing their options. CEO Tim Richards told Radio 4 this morning: “Our problem right now is we have no movies. This was a big blow for us. We’re likely going to make it through, I’m concerned about the independents and the small regional operators right now that are going to really struggle and when they close they may not reopen”.

Do you feel safe going to the cinema?


Image via Alamy