Just in case you were wondering if the nation’s second largest cinema chain had any concrete opening plans: They apparently don’t. Regal Cinemas announced via Twitter on Tuesday night that there’s still no framework in place or timeline they’re following for a phased reopening of the chain’s 564 locations nationwide. The entire chain has been closed ever since March 16. In terms of prominence, Regal is second only in size to AMC.
That’s bad news for would-be blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, whose planned July 17 release is looking less and less likely. Warner Bros. has stated that they want to see 80% of all theaters worldwide open in order for the costly Tenet to come out on that date, and it seems impossible that this would happen if the likes of Regal and its parent company Cineworld aren’t involved.
The reopening of theaters has been a hot-button issue all around the globe. As far back as late March, China briefly re-opened its theaters before closing them again in less than a week. In the U.S., states like Georgia likewise declared their theaters should be open for business, only to be told by the theater chains that they were by no means ready to re-open.
At the same time, the move of several major releases to premium VOD/streaming rather than theatrical screening has caused the outbreak of a genuine war in the movie community, as AMC declared it would boycott all films from Universal. It briefly seemed as if Regal was joining in on that boycott, before thinking better of it. They eventually released a compromise of a statement, saying that they would exhibit films that respected the theatrical window, but were not specifically boycotting Universal as AMC is.
“Regal is not boycotting Universal or any other studio,” the chain said in the tweet. “We will continue our normal policy and play movies that respect the theatrical window, allowing movies to be released first in theatres prior to streaming or VOD platforms.”
Of course, in order to exhibit those films, you really have to be open first. And with no timeline in place, it’s impossible to say how much longer one of the country’s biggest theater chains will remain entirely out of sight.