AVON — As the sun set in Hendricks County Thursday, the parking lot of the Regal Shiloh Crossing theater looked about as you might expect on an off night. About 35 vehicles were parked in the lot that can hold many times that number.
But something was different. The big marquee was devoid of film titles. Movies were still playing inside, but these were the last showings.
Cineworld Group, the company that owns the 536 Regal theaters across the U.S. is closing them, effective Friday. The company says the shutdown is temporary, but there is no reopening date.
The pandemic is to blame and there are two factors. Some moviegoers are not comfortable with sitting in a theater in the midst of a global pandemic. On top of that, there's been a delay in the release of potential blockbuster films—including the latest James Bond movie.
In the Indianapolis area, these theaters are owned by Regal:
- Shilo Crossing, Avon
- Regal Greenwood
- Regal Noblesville
- Regal UA Circle Center
- Regal Village Park, Carmel
- Regal UA Galaxy, East 96th Street
As reported by the Associates Press, groups representing theater owners, movie studios and directors issued a recent plea to U.S. lawmakers to provide relief to ailing movie theaters. The letter, signed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Patty Jenkins, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese, said that if the status quo continues, nearly 70% of small to mid-size movie theaters could be forced to close permanently.
It's the second time this year Regal has closed. The first shutdown began in March and lasted nearly six months. In some cities, including New York, the theaters never reopened.
Without new releases, Cineworld said it can’t give customers “the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theaters against the backdrop of COVID-19."
“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets — including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theaters and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry,″ said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.