No matter how many eager theatergoers flocked to Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love And Thunder this summer, it’s another day of bad news for the moviegoing experience: Cineworld has confirmed it’s considering filing for bankruptcy. Since the pre-pandemic massacre of cinemas that saw Cineworld briefly shutter all stateside Regal locations, the company continues arduously shouldering a $5 billion debt—compared with a comparably mere $69 million market value.
Per The BBC, Cineworld is currently considering multiple options as far as restructuring operations—one of which the company confirms is a U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. That pathway would allow Cineworld to continue to operate a business while finalizing dealings with its creditors but is a worryingly murky one for the 28,000 people the company employs worldwide.
In a statement obtained by The BBC, the company offered insight into its restructuring plans, sharing: “Cineworld would expect to maintain its operations in the ordinary course until and following any filing and ultimately to continue its business over the longer term with no significant impact upon its employees.”
Things first began to look troubling on Friday, when The Wall Street Journal published an article stating Cineworld planned to file for bankruptcy “within weeks.” Not so coincidentally, shares in the company plummeted 60% on the same day. Cineworld’s own value isn’t the only low number that bodes badly for movie theaters worldwide; although recent hits like the aforementioned Top Gun sequel had record-setting debuts, box-office earnings were still down a reported 32% this year in comparison with pre-pandemic 2019 numbers.
Cineworld is the second-biggest theater chain in the world and owns U.S.-based Regal Cinemas. In a particularly memorable “look at how they massacred my boy” moment, Cineworld shuttered all of its Regal Cinemas locations on October 8, 2020. Luckily, many were able to re-open, but as the mere inkling of a Chapter 11 filing indicates, it’s difficult to account for the debts that come inherent in a lack of bodies in theater seats. Clearly, it’s time for the Nicole Kidman-style wide-eyed movie-magic lovers to unionize. It doesn’t matter if you plan to see Barbie or Oppenheimer in theaters on July 21, 2023—if we all don’t hold our local cinemas close, everyone will be watching their chosen premiere on streaming.