Cineworld shares (LON: CINE) plummetted over 57% on Monday’s opening.
The group announced that it would be temporarily closing all of its US and UK cinemas after delays to the new James Bond film.
The cinema closures will begin this week and will risk 45,000 jobs across the US and UK.
“As major US. markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films,” said Cineworld in a statement.
“In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of COVID-19.”
Philippa Childs, head of the arts union Bectu, said: “The announcement that the release of No Time to Die, the 25th film featuring the secret agent, would be delayed again has left cinemas facing financial obliteration because of the absence of other forthcoming blockbuster films…..
“According to industry sources, the cinema industry is caught in a Catch-22 situation. Movie studios are reluctant to release blockbuster films until they are sure that audiences will return – and cinema owners are unable to prove they can lure back audiences given the absence of blockbusters.
“The stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable,” said Philippa Childs, head of the arts union Bectu.”
The closure of Cineworld cinemas in the UK risks 5,500 jobs.
The group has struggled this year as cinema closures led to the company posting losses of £1.3bn for the first half of 2020, compared to profits of £110m a year earlier.
Cineworld shares (LON: CINE) plummeted 57% this morning to 17p. In January 2020, before the pandemic, shares at the company were worth 220p.