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Regal Cinemas to reopen in April, strikes new deal with Warner Bros.


A view of the Regal Loews Cinemas movie theater in Times Square in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

As lockdowns ease, Regal Cinemas will reopen in the U.S. after six months of being shuttered.

The movie theater chain owned by Cineworld, is set to reopen around 500 locations on April 2 at limited capacity based on local guidelines. In most cases, attendance is capped at 25% to 50%.

Regal Cinemas will showcase Warner Bros.’ film “Godzilla vs. Kong” during its first weekend open. “Mortal Kombat” will play in its theaters starting April 16.

Warner Bros. made the decision to release all of its 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service HBO Max. This meant that it had to renegotiate deals with each cinema company to ensure that its films would be played on the big screen.

Cineworld is the latest theater chain to agree to these terms and to strike a long-term deal with the studio to ensure that after 2021 there will be a longer time period between a film’s release in theaters and its availability in the home market.

Warner Bros. and Cineworld signed a multi-year agreement that begins in 2022 and stipulates that Warner Bros.’ features will have to play in theaters for 45 days before moving to streaming platforms or video on-demand.

In the U.K., the deal is for 31 days and can be extended to 45 for films that open with a high enough box office gross.

Regal Cinemas is the second-largest theater chain in the U.S., just behind AMC Theaters. The company had opted to shutter its movie theaters six months ago.

At the time, Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Cineworld, told CNBC that closing locations in the U.S. and the U.K. was a way to stem the “bleeding.” He said his business lost less money by not operating.

With local restrictions loosening in places like California and New York, it seems Regal has more confidence that its theaters will be able to thrive and become profitable once again.

The two states together account for 21.5% of the total U.S. box office receipts each year, according to data from Comscore.

Movie theaters in New York City were permitted to reopen at limited capacity during the first week of March and cinemas in Los Angeles were granted permission to reopen two weeks ago.

New York City makes up nearly 24% of all of New York state’s total box office and Los Angeles accounts for around 30% of California’s. These cities have above-average ticket prices and population density, as well as being hubs of the entertainment industry, making them vitally important to the industry’s financial well-being.

Having those two cities reopened for business gives studios the confidence to release major blockbuster films and movie theater operators the confidence to reopen locations. As of last weekend, around 51% of North American theater were open to the public, according to data from Comscore.

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