It may not have been able to show any big films for a while but the losses Cineworld has unveiled this morning are truly blockbuster.
It’s no surprise that the cinema operator is raising funds yet again to boost the buffer it has to ride out a period when it essentially isn’t selling any tickets.
“There is also little room for the pace of reopening in the UK and US to slow before the company might need to go cap in hand again,” said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.
“These are (hopefully) short-term concerns which have been exacerbated by the debt built up during Cineworld’s ambitious and ultimately ill-timed acquisition-led growth in recent years.
“Longer term the question for the business is whether the theatrical window, the time when films are exclusively shown in cinemas, will survive the pandemic.
“Clearly Covid-19 has forced big studios to turn to streaming platforms instead – with access to the newest releases sold at a premium price roughly in line with what you would pay to see a film on the big screen.
“The cinema industry has typically done well in previous economic downturns – offering a (relatively) cheap escape from the strains of daily life. However, this latest downturn is different because of its cause.
“Will people stay away from cinemas because they’ve got used to watching movies from the comfort of their sofas and are still wary of infection risks? Or will there be significant pent-up demand as people long to return to the rituals of their pre-Covid existence? Cineworld will be hoping for the latter and that the cinema industry still has a long-term future.”