Six Cineworld sites in the South West could be at risk of closing over reports that the entertainment giant is to file for bankruptcy.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Cineworld has engaged Kirkland & Ellis lawyers as well as consultants from Alix Partners to advise on the bankruptcy process. The paper says the group is looking at Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA and insolvency in the UK.
Cineworld – which is the second-largest cinema chain, with 9,518 screens across 790 sites – this week warned that audience numbers have been weaker than expected and predicted they will stay low until November due to “limited” film releases. It said that it was ‘assessing options to shore up its finances’ as a result.
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In the South West, Cineworld has sites in Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester Quays, Weston-super-Mare, Yate and Yeovil. In a tweet, the company said that all of its cinemas are open for business as usual, and it continues to welcome Cineworld Unlimited members and all of its customers, across the UK and Ireland.
The group, which owns the Picturehouse chain in the UK and Regal Cinemas in the US, had pinned its hopes on releases such as Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman and Thor: Love And Thunder to aid its recovery from the heavy impact of the pandemic. However, in a statement the firm said: “Despite a gradual recovery of demand since reopening in April 2021, recent admission levels have been below expectations.
“These lower levels of admissions are due to a limited film slate that is anticipated to continue until November 2022 and are expected to negatively impact trading and the group’s liquidity position in the near term. We remain committed to being the Best Place to Watch a Movie,” it added.
Cineworld said it will continue with cost-saving plans but will also look at new options to improve its financial position. The business, which was saddled with 4.8 billion dollars (£4 billion) of debt at the end of the last financial year, said it is in talks with stakeholders over potential funding or considering restructuring its balance sheet.
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