Regal reopens Avenues theatre Friday

Regal Cinemas is second largest movie theater chain in US

Regals Cinema repares to reopen. (WJXT/Jud Hulon)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Regal will reopen its theatre on Philips Highway Friday afternoon, featuring Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man, Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs. Kong, along with a full slate of additional titles.

Future releases opening in the coming weeks include A Quiet Place Part II and F9.

Reopening plans include a wide range of health and safety measures that adhere to the CinemaSafe protocol and guidelines.

Regal, the second-largest movie theatre chain in the U.S., had been one of most notable holdouts in the gradual reopening of cinemas nationwide. For nearly half a year, its 7,211 screens and 549 theatres in the U.S. have been dark. Doors at a limited number of Regal theaters reopened last month with attendance limited to 25% to 50% capacity.

Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, also agreed to a new multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Beginning next year, the studio’s releases will have a 45-day exclusive window at Regal cinemas, roughly slicing in half the traditional period. That doesn’t apply to Warner releases this year, which are streaming simultaneously on HBO Max when they open in theaters.

“We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros." said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Cineworld. "This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros."

The agreement is the latest in a reordering of the theatrical marketplace — a sea change accelerated by the pandemic but viewed as long-in-coming by some analysts given the rise in streaming services.

Universal Pictures last November agreed to deals with AMC and Cinemark — the first- and third-largest chains — to shrink the theatrical window to 17 days, or three weekends. Greidinger at the time said the company didn't see “any business sense" in that model.

The Walt Disney Co. continues to release several of its largest upcoming films, including the Marvel movie “Black Widow” simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+.

About half of North American theaters were open as of last week, according to data firm Comscore. In the past few weeks, theaters have been allowed to reopen in New York and Los Angeles — the two largest U.S. markets — for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets,” said Greidinger.