Vue has become the latest major UK exhibitor to announce it is making changes to its operating hours in response to ongoing COVID-related challenges.
The chain will begin closing 21 of its 87 sites on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The move follows Cineworld announcing it is temporarily re-closing all of its cinemas, and Odeon announcing it will close a portion of its venues during week days, last week.
The situation was prompted by the delay of James Bond pic No Time To Die six months to April next year, though Cineworld boss Mooky Greidinger blamed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “inflexibility” in allowing cinemas to reopen, rather than the studios.
Vue cited protecting the “livelihoods of our staff” and “keeping our doors open” for the reduced hours. The UK government recently announced it will be introducing a new Jobs Support Scheme in place of the previous furlough scheme, and that will cover a third of workers’ wages when they are working reduced hours.
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In an exclusive interview with Deadline last week, Vue boss Tim Richards said he was trying to avoid “the nuclear option” of temporarily closing sites.
Here’s the latest Vue update in full:
“Over the summer we safely reopened all our cinemas across Europe and customers have confirmed just how important it is to have a safe and enjoyable out of home experience. We are bringing audiences exciting new reasons to come to our screens – from modern classics and documentaries, to music concerts and live premiership football. 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.”