(Toronto) President and CEO of Cineplex says the nation's largest movie theater chain is poised to be “flexible and nimble” in the face of historic business challenges and unpredictable pandemic constraints from COVID-19.
Posted Oct 13, 2020 at 6:12 PM
Ellis Jacob told investors Tuesday at the company's annual webcast meeting that executives would "make the necessary changes" to get through the next six to 12 months, which could be characterized by temporary shutdowns due to the virus, delays. in the launch of Hollywood movies and the redirection of certain titles to streaming services.
But Mr. Jacob also regretted the Ontario government's decision to force the closure of 22 of the 68 Cineplex sites in the province with less than a day's notice during Action Weekend. thanks.
The county has tightened COVID-19 restrictions on several assembly areas – including training rooms, restaurants, casinos and movie theaters – for at least 28 days in Toronto, Ottawa and the Peel region.
The CEO found this decision unfair for cinema operators who have implemented staggered hours and distance measures to meet health requirements. He pointed out that Cineplex has not seen any COVID-19 outbreaks in its theaters since it reopened this summer.
"When we look at movie theaters in general, it doesn't pose the same risk as other services and gatherings inside," he said. “Cinemas are fundamentally different from any other retail or restaurant environment.
The recent strengthening of sanitary measures also forced Cineplex to close 17 other facilities in Quebec earlier this month, as well as two in New Brunswick.
Mr. Jacob acknowledged that there were still risks that the company would be forced to "close theaters at certain times" in the coming months, but he expects that to be "on a limited basis."
New restrictions in Ontario prevented Cineplex from holding its annual meeting in person at one of the theaters in Toronto, an event intended as a symbolic gesture of confidence in the Canadian film production industry. which got more hits last week.
Reports and web versions
In addition to the temporary closure of some theaters, operators were also faced with another postponement of the release of the most recent James Bond film until next year, and with Disney's decision to stop Pixar & # 39; s theatrical release. "Soul" in November in favor of the Disney Plus streaming platform.
Mr. Jacob explained that to face these setbacks Cineplex has put several measures on the table, including possible reductions in rental costs and further reductions in labor costs.
"What remains clear from conversations with many of our partner studios is that they are determined to release their films in theaters and recognize that this is essential to the long-term financial success of a film," claimed he.
Cineplex hopes to convince moviegoers that returning to theaters is a low-risk activity in Canada, to counter reports south of the border, where theaters in New York and Los Angeles remain largely closed.
In the absence of these major US markets, most Hollywood studios have been reluctant to release their biggest titles anywhere, amplifying a cascade effect across the industry.
Regal Cinemas' decision to temporarily close most of its US facilities earlier this month due to a lack of blockbuster movies appears to have created a ripple effect prompting studios to keep their most anticipated movies until COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
Cineplex hopes to overcome the headline shortage with a few exclusive theatrical releases, including the most recent Paramount "SpongeBob" movie so far and the upcoming Warner Bros. movie The Witches, which will be released on the show shortly before release. HBO Max platform in the United States should appear in theaters in Canada.
But in the coming months, Cineplex will depend on the ever-changing Hollywood release schedule.
The delay in the release of the most recent James Bond, No Time to Die, caused the company's stock price to drop significantly, dropping nearly 30% after Friday's announcement. Several analysts have revised stocks down in response to the move, citing concerns about rising debt levels.
Cineplex is also facing the fallout of UK film operator Cineworld Group PLC's decision on June 12 to close a $ 2.8 billion deal to buy the company. Cineplex has filed a lawsuit against his former suitor for the collapse of the deal; Legal proceedings are expected to start in September 2021, according to the Canadian company.