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Regal to close six theaters in Southern California

Fountain in front of a movie theater
The Regal Irvine Spectrum was closed for months earlier in the pandemic. It has reopened and is not affected by the closures.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)
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Want to catch up on “Women Talking,” “The Fabelmans” or “Avatar: The Way of Water” before the Oscars?

Your list of places to go just got a bit shorter.

Six Regal Cinemas theaters across the Southland are set to shut down, according to a new filing that the chain’s parent company, Cineworld Group, submitted Tuesday as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.

Impacted theaters include the Sherman Oaks Galleria 16 in Los Angeles; Metro Point in Costa Mesa; Yorba Linda & IMAX in Yorba Linda; Escondido Stadium 16 & IMAX in Escondido; Hemet Cinema 12 in Hemet; and Parkway Plaza Stadium 18 & IMAX in El Cajon.

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The British film exhibitor has been struggling with a debt load of about $5 billion, as the pandemic and streaming pummel the box office.

The Southern California locations are among 39 that comprise a list of “Leases to Be Rejected” in the Cineworld filing. The closures are expected to begin in February.

Theaters in Berkeley and Las Vegas will also be affected.

Regal outlets in Calabasas, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and San Francisco have already been shut down, according to Insider, which was the first to note the shutdowns.

Cineworld, the second-largest theater operator in the world, filed for bankruptcy protection last September.

According to its latest filing, the firm is seeking an order authorizing it to reject unexpired real estate leases as well as “abandon certain equipment, fixtures, furniture, or other personal property” located therein.

Cineworld reported $10.35 billion in net debt as of late June.

The company said it had secured $1.94 billion in new financing to continue running while it reorganized under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.

Cineworld’s legal representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved a trying time for theaters, which — like many other players in the events industry — struggled with lost revenue and absent customers, as well as shifts in the release schedules for money-making blockbusters. The rise of streaming has also transformed where and how consumers watch movies.

Cineworld’s American theaters are “a significant contributing factor to their current financial challenges,” the company wrote in its Tuesday filing. “Primarily due to the impact of deferred rent payments, the Debtors estimate that the average monthly rent obligations per theater increased by almost 30% year-to-date July 2022 compared to full-year 2019.”

This isn’t Regal’s first rodeo. Following a period of overdevelopment in the ‘90s, the chain declared bankruptcy in 2001, only to emerge a year later having reorganized.

Cineworld, a British company, subsequently agreed to buy Regal in 2017 with an acquisition deal that valued the chain at $3.6 billion.


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