BRENTFORD, U.K. — Cineworld Group, parent company to Regal Cinemas among other international theater brands, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.
While a specific plan regarding the company’s real estate was not announced, Cineworld expects to pursue an “optimization strategy” regarding its locations across the U.S. as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The company is engaging in discussions with its landlords on improving cinema lease terms in hopes of further positioning Cineworld for long-term growth in the U.S., the company says.
The Brentford, U.K.-based company was founded in 1995 and has over 747 theaters open across 10 countries, with 511 located in the U.S. As part of its Chapter 11 proceedings, Cineworld is seeking to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet in order to accelerate growth. The company has nearly $2 billion in financial commitments from existing lenders to keep operating.
The company expects to operate its global business and cinemas as usual throughout the Chapter 11 process. Cineworld’s subsidiaries and affiliates not engaged in the U.S. or U.K. businesses were not included in the filing and are not part of the Chapter 11 process.
Cineworld made headlines with its acquisition of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group in 2018 prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a tremendous negative impact on the movie theater industry. The company lost $2.7 billion in 2020 and $566 million in 2021 due to impacts of the pandemic, according to reports by CNN.
While the domestic box office bounced back over the summer with box office hits like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic Park: Dominion,” the future of the movie theater business remains unclear in the wake of COVID-19.