The Most Popular Movie Chain Is Shutting Down A Ton Of Theaters

In the wake of its bankruptcy filing, Regal Cinema's parent company Cineworld is shutting down 39 locations across the United States.

By Michileen Martin | Updated


Avatar: The Way of Water may eventually become as much of a record breaking game-changer as its 2009 predecessor, but there are dozens of Regal Cinema locations whose lights are fading to black permanently regardless. Yesterday, Variety reported that, beginning February 15 — two days before the wide theatrical release of Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania — Regal’s parent company Cineworld will reject the leases of 39 of its locations across the United States. Cineworld filed for bankruptcy in September, as it continues to suffer losses from the hit the theater industry took in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Variety’s report, while Regal is bleeding less than it was, the flow hasn’t stopped completely. The company’s losses before taxes in 2020 were $3 billion, and the losses dropped to $703 million in 2021. Meanwhile, rent per theater went up 30 percent between 2019 and 2022.

The complete list of the 39 Regal locations closing encompasses 20 states and Washington, DC. The states with the most theater losses will be California (seven closings) and New York (six closings). The remaining 18 states losing Regal locations are Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

These nearly 40 theaters are not the first Regal locations to be lost during Cineworld’s bankruptcy. Back in September, the same month Cineworld filed for bankruptcy, it was announced a dozen of Regal’s theaters across the US would shutter. According to the legal documents Variety obtained, these new, more widespread closings are projected to save $22 million per year.

More people are going to the movies now than were going in 2019; but even massive hit blockbusters like Avatar: The Way of Water, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Top Gun: Maverick have not brought theater chains like Regal back to pre-Covid earnings. Last year brought in a total $7.5 million domestically, while the last year before Covid hit the States, 2019, brought in 30 percent more — $11.4 billion.

tom cruise top gun: maverick
Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022), which brought in a worldwide box office gross of $1.49 billion.

As tragic as it is, considering the economic loss and the job losses expected by the Regal employees manning the affected theaters, it has been interesting to watch how the movie industry has been impacted by the last few years. At first, it seemed that the losses for theater chains like Regal were all wins for streamers like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max. That is until everything started going sideways for all those streaming platforms and more.

Netflix’s surprise losses from 2021 were followed by what seemed like a never-ending series of cancellations and other bad news for the streamer. Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Bros. was followed by a gutting of HBO Max’s content, as well as the shocking cancellations of upcoming projects like Batgirl. Things at Disney haven’t seemed much better, with the old CEO Bob Iger coming back to replace Bob Chapek.

However, Netflix could very well have righted the proverbial ship in the same storm in which Regal and other theater chains still find themselves floundering. The company just reported a surprise record all-time high number of subscribers, in spite of the company projecting more losses.