What just happened? Cineworld, the UK theater company that owns American movie theater chain Regal Cinemas, is temporarily closing its theaters in the UK and the US due to the pandemic. Cineworld confirmed on Monday it will be suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theaters in the US effective October 8, 2020.

Movie theaters were among those hardest hit by pandemic shutdown measures in mid-March. Many have since reopened, albeit with social distancing measures in place. But the issue has been compounded by a broader industry shift in which distributors are testing the at-home, on-demand waters. Others, still, have decided to delay the launch of blockbuster films by several months, with some like the new James Bond movie No Time to Die slipping into early 2021.

Cineworld in a Twitter post published on Sunday confirmed the news but noted that a final decision had not yet been reached. That decision came Monday morning...

"Regal will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen."

Theaters had countered with some creativity, including screening retro blockbusters like Jaws and Jurassic Park and even offering to let cautious guests rent out theater halls for private screenings.

These temporary Band-Aids have a limit, however, as theaters can only remain shut down for so long before they go belly up and have to toss in the towel.

Masthead credit: wavebreakmedia