A quarter of Vue’s UK cinemas are to shut three days a week in an effort to reduce costs after delays in the release of a string of blockbusters.
The UK’s third-largest cinema chain will reduce its opening hours to four days a week at 21 of its 87 sites, keeping them shut on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
This comes after the rival chain Cineworld announced it would temporarily close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK, leaving 5,500 employees with no work.
Vue said in a statement that it had safely reopened its cinemas across Europe this summer but would now only operate from Friday to Monday at 21 sites across the UK to ensure it was “financially well placed” for the uncertainty ahead.
“We remain committed to ensuring that Vue has a long-term future, to protecting the livelihoods of our staff and keeping our doors open to ensure our cinemas continue to serve the communities they operate in,” it said.
“We came into this pandemic in a very strong position after a record 2019 and a record start to 2020, and we are looking forward to returning to full steam as soon as Hollywood studios start releasing the content which audiences are clamouring for.”
Vue’s move follows the delay to the next James Bond film, No Time To Die, until April next year. The Marvel film Black Widow, the sci-fi blockbuster Dune, and Jurassic World: Dominion are also among the high-profile titles delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Vue’s chief exective, Tim Richards, said last week that the Bond delay had caught the company by surprise.
“We reopened on the basis that we were going to be getting movies that then didn’t arrive. There are a lot of players that do not have the size and scale Vue does that will not survive,” he said.
“We will survive, we just need movies.”
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The rival chain Odeon has also confirmed that about 30 of its 120 cinema sites will shut from Monday to Thursday. The AMC-owned cinema chain recently emailed loyalty customers to notify them that some cinemas will operate on a weekend-only model for the time being.
Five of the Vue branches with reduced opening hours are in London, including the chain’s large cinema in Leicester Square.
The affected Vue sites
Vue Hull Princes Quay
Vue Shepherds Bush
Vue West End (Leicester Square)
Vue Wood Green