Following recent reports that Cineplex won’t actually be sold to U.K. theatre giant Cineworld as originally planned before the health crisis hit, the Canadian entertainment company has revealed its new plan for moving forward.
Though it originally said that Cineworld had “no legal basis” to back out of the $2.8-billion acquisition, Cineplex has now confirmed the unexpected news. But, this scenario was something it “had considered and planned for,” it said in a press release on Monday — and, it will be taking legal action to seek damages for the breach of the original sale agreement.
All 165 Cineplex locations nationwide have been preparing for a safe reopening since they closed back in mid-March due to the pandemic, but the months of forced closures and the unexpected annulment of the Cineworld deal mean there will be a slew of temporary layoffs, salary reductions, and expenditure cuts across the company.
The theatre chain will also be seeking rent relief from landlords and applying to all government subsidy programs that it may be eligible for to help stay afloat. And, it will be taking further advantage of things like food delivery through third-party apps and online store offerings, which it has ramped up amid COVID-19.
According to the release, the company will be resuming “measured” operations at its Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton Rec Room gaming locations this week, along with six Alberta movie theatres on June 26.
It anticipates opening “as many of its locations as it can” on or around July 3, depending on respective provincial restrictions at that time.
Customers will need to pre-reserve seating for all films in order to ensure reduced capacity and proper social distancing, and other health and safety protocols will be in place, though details of these have not yet been announced.
But, there will inevitably be an unpredictable and prolonged “negative impact on Cineplex’s operations,” the release states, though the business says it is optimistic that the industry “will recover over time” as people look forward to getting out post-lockdown.
Still, it seems things are pretty up in the air for the company as it tries to recover from debt it already had even before the novel coronavirus hit and the Cineworld sale fell through. Its shares have fallen more than 20 per cent since the deal was called off on Friday.