UK’s Largest Cinema Chain Odeon Slows Reopening Amid Moving Film Slate

EXCLUSIVE: Odeon Cinemas, the AMC-owned chain which is the UK’s largest cinema operator by number of sites, has decided to slow down its reopening plans amid ongoing coronavirus disruption and a film slate that is seeing major titles continue to shift back.

The chain reopened an initial 10 sites on July 4, which was the first date that the UK government allowed venues to resume operations. The plan was to open a further 88 venues incrementally before the end of July, however Deadline understands that number has now been scaled back and will instead be closer to 10 across the next couple of weeks. The move is also understood to not include significant London sites, which are crucial for distributors.

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A larger number of Odeon venues should reopen on July 31, mirroring the move made by Cineworld recently when it decided to push back opening all of its UK sites until that date.

The key reason behind these decisions is a lack of high-profile titles to program. The two major blockbusters on the horizon – Warner Bros’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan – have repeatedly shifted and now sit at August 12 and August 21 respectively. There’s no guarantee they will be able to stick to those revised dates, it depends on the virus situation in the U.S., where spikes are threatening to cause further disruption. Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged currently sits on July 31 as the first major post-lockdown release in the UK.

As we reported this week, around 9% of cinemas did resume operations (50 sites) in the UK this past weekend, though they grossed a minimal $160K across the top ten releases, led by Disney Pixar’s Onward.

“Our next phase of re-openings will continue to take place from this Friday. However, in light of changes in the timing of this summer’s big blockbusters, the reopening dates scheduled for our cinemas across July will now be phased over July and August,” an Odeon spokesperson confirmed to Deadline.

“We are pleased to be welcoming guests back through our doors, and we continue to receive positive feedback from cinemagoers on their experience and the additional safety measures we have put in place.”

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