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Canadian exhibition giant Cineplex says it will open six theaters in Alberta on June 26, before it expects to reopen the rest of its domestic circuit in early July, as regulatory guidelines allow.
“In all markets where Cineplex is permitted by government and health authorities, it plans to reopen as many of its locations as it can on July 3, 2020 (or as soon thereafter as permitted by law),” Cineplex said in a statement Monday. Toronto-based Cineplex also said it will see Cineworld Group in court after the U.K.-based exhibitor pulled its $2.1 billion takeover deal for the Canadian circuit, without specifying what the alleged breaches of the merger agreement were.
“Cineworld’s decision to abandon the transaction was a scenario that Cineplex had considered and planned for. Cineplex has developed a robust contingency plan for operating its business and improving its financial position on a go forward basis as one of Canada’s leading entertainment and media companies,” the company added.
On Friday, Regal owner Cineworld called off its takeover of Cineplex, which would have created one of the world’s largest cinema companies with more than 11,200 screens globally. Cineworld did not disclose any alleged breaches of the transaction terms by Cineplex as grounds for pulling the deal, but did say Cineplex had experienced an unspecified “material adverse effect.”
Cineplex, as it remains a Canadian-owned company, said it has developed plans for long-term financial stability as it advances without the restrictions of the transaction agreement with Cineworld. “Management is confident that Cineplex will be able to address any liquidity issues arising from the impact of COVID-19 as it moves forward in the coming weeks and months,” the company said.
On its reopening plans, Cineplex promised “end-to-end health and safety protocols” and reserved seating for all of its nationwide auditoriums to ensure physical distancing between guests. In March, the exhibitor temporarily laid off or imposed pay cuts on employees after nearly 1,700 screens nationwide were shuttered amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cineplex, like U.S. exhibitors, has been targeting its theater reopenings ahead of the major studios releasing high-profile tentpoles this summer to bring filmgoers out to the multiplex. On Friday, though, the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was delayed by two weeks to July 31.
Warner Bros. had been set to open the $200 million tentpole July 17. Disney’s Mulan remains set to open July 24, with Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run to hit theaters Aug. 7.
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