The Lowdown: The closure of Cineworld

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

What does the closure of Cineworld mean for restaurants?

Related tags: cinema, Casual dining

The temporary shutdown of the world’s second biggest cinema operator has big implications for the restaurant sector, casual dining in particular.

What’s this got to do with restaurants?

Quite a bit. Cinema visits are an extremely important driver for restaurants visits. Casual dining operators - especially those located in out-of-town retail parks - are especially reliant on moviegoers.

Oh dear. So has Cineworld gone for good?

No but it looks likely to be a long intermission. 102 Cineworld sites and 25 of Cineworld-owned Picturehouse cinemas have been temporarily closed with the company blaming an “increasingly challenging theatrical landscape”. The national cinema chain reopened some of its locations in July, after temporarily closing in March due to the lockdown. Cineworld’s hiatus will be especially bad news for the major casual dining brands -including Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and YO! - which have a partnership with Cineworld that sees its Unlimited members get 25% off food and drink at participating restaurants seven days a week.

What are the other big cinema chains doing?

Cineworld’s competitors are having a tough time of it too. Odeon is making a quarter of its 120-strong estate weekends only. Vue is keeping its theatres open but boss Tim Richards has warned that a lack of new films is making things extremely difficult. The catalyst for Cineworld’s announcement appears to have been the new James Bond film No Time To Die being delayed for a second time (it now won’t hit screens until 2021).

Another big chunk of footfall gone for big cities, not least central London...

Combined with theatres not being allowed to open in most cases it’s a disaster. If there wasn’t already metaphorical tumbleweed blowing across Leicester Square there certainly is now. It’s bad news for smaller places too. Local, more art house-y cinemas such as the Picturehouse group are often community hubs that get people out and larger cinemas are often the main anchor for out-of-town leisure parks.

It feels like the very concept of going out is under threat

Yep. Retail was struggling prior to the pandemic and many thought restaurants, cinemas and other venues that provided experiences rather than 'stuff' would be able to step up. That’s looking less certain now, although some places are doing better than others (many London suburbs are booming, for example). One thing is for sure, the high street is going to look very different a year or so on from now.

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