Nearly a quarter of Vue cinemas will be shut three days a week in an effort to reduce costs following delays in the release of a string of blockbusters.
From next week, the cinema chain will reduce its opening hours to four days a week at 21 of its 87 UK sites, keeping them shut on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
This comes after rival chain Cineworld announced it will temporarily close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK.
The chief executive of Vue Cinemas previously said cinema chains were dealt a “body blow” by the delay to the next James Bond film, No Time To Die, until April next year.
Marvel film Black Widow, sci-fi blockbuster Dune and Jurassic World: Dominion are also among the high-profile titles that have seen release delays as a result of the global pandemic.
Tim Richards said on Monday: “Our problem right now is we have no movies. This was a big blow for us. We’re likely going to make it through; I’m concerned about the independents and the small regional operators right now that are going to really struggle, and when they close they may not reopen.”
Five of the branches with reduced opening hours are in London, including the chain’s large cinema in Leicester Square.
A Vue spokesperson said: “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.
“However, from next week, we will be temporarily reducing our opening days to Friday-Monday (inclusive) at 21 out of our 87 UK sites to ensure that our business is financially well-placed to withstand the uncertainty ahead.
“Our belief in the future of this industry is unshaken. 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.”
The affected Vue sites are: Vue Accrington, Vue Altrincham, Vue Barrow, Vue Birkenhead, Vue Blackburn, Vue Cardiff, Vue Carmarthen, Vue Cleveleys, Vue Dagenham, Vue Hull Princes Quay, Vue Lancaster, Vue Newbury, Vue Piccadilly, Vue Redditch, Vue Rhyl, Vue Scunthorpe, Vue Shepherds Bush, Vue Stroud, Vue Swansea, Vue West End (Leicester Square) and Vue Wood Green.
Rival chain Odeon has also confirmed that about 30 of its 120 cinema sites will shut from Monday to Thursday after audience figures have been slow to recover following the pandemic.
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.