Cineworld closure: Labour accuse UK Government of leaving thousands of workers on ‘the scrap heap’
Labour has accused the Government of “consigning thousands of workers to the scrap heap” after cinema giant Cineworld announced the temporary closure of more than 100 of its UK sites - including three in Scotland.
Cineworld said it would close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK, confirming reports over the weekend, and sending shares down by as much as 57% as markets opened in London.
On Thursday, the industry was rocked by plans by James Bond studios MGM and Universal to delay the release of the franchise’s latest film.
Then, on Friday, producers of the highly-anticipated Fast and Furious sequel F9 - with several scenes shot in Edinburgh - also announced its release would be delayed.
Cineworld operates ten cinemas in Scotland, at sites in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen Falkirk and Dundee.
Around 5,500 jobs are thought to be affected by the closures across the UK.
Reacting to the news, Labour shadow culture secretary, Jo Stevens said: “This is devastating news for Cineworld workers and cinema goers, and will have a knock-on impact on towns and city centres.
“The cinema industry was viable before the crisis and will be afterwards, when the film industry recovers.
“The failure of ministers to recognise the value of shut-down businesses, which now includes many cinemas, means they are consigning thousands of workers to the scrap heap.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said firms had received “a lot of support” after the news broke on Monday.
Asked if the Government will help the chain, she told Sky News: “One of the things Cineworld has cited is that cinemagoers want to be able to see new films coming through, as opposed to just seeing films of the past, and that’s something which the whole industry can work together to deploy.
“Cineworld will have been supported throughout the year through the furlough scheme through other ways the Government has been supporting businesses.
“Conscious that aspects of the main furlough scheme are coming to an end, but there is a successor scheme there.”
Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets.”
Cineworld said on Monday: “As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films.
“In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of Covid-19.”
Mr Greidinger said Cineworld will wait until “the appropriate time” to talk about reopening.
This morning, Vue chief executive Tim Richards told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his company has taken a hit by delays from the studios.
“Our problem right now is we have no movies. This was a big blow for us.
“We’re likely going to make it through, I’m concerned about the independents and the small regional operators right now that are going to really struggle and when they close they may not reopen,” he said.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. Visit https://www.u2swisshome.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.