NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Five movie theaters in Middle Tennessee are among hundreds across the country that will go dark this week.
All 536 Regal Cinema locations across the U.S. will close starting Thursday, Oct. 8. Company officials cited the financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the release date of the latest James Bond movie has been pushed back.
The company said in a statement on social media:
"In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures, Regal will suspend operations at all theatres at close of business on Thursday, October 8, 2020 until further notice."
The closures will impact more than 40,000 employees across the country.
Regal Cinemas has locations in Nashville at 100 Oaks, the Green Hills Mall, and Opry Mills Mall. There is also a location in Hendersonville and Clarksville.
The announcement is the latest blow to the movie industry that has struggled to rebound from the pandemic. Many theaters did reopen in August, but people were slow to return due to concerns about safety, and limited new releases to watch.
Lead instructor at Nashville Film Institute Micah Ellars said the announcement on the theater closures seemed inevitable. He has watched as colleagues in the film industry have been out of work due to the pandemic.
"I’ve seen people selling equipment, just cashing out, saying it's over," said Ellars.
Still, Ellars said classes have resumed at the Nashville Film Institute and he believes there will still be opportunities for his students down the road. He predicted smaller productions would become more common - which could provide an opportunity to present new and diverse perspectives.
"I think it shows you we are in transition, and there is a new era which will be more competitive," said Ellars.
Regal officials did not share any plans for a reopening date for theaters but said they would continue to monitor the situation closely.