Union Square Regal Cinemas location to close

Elijah Blain

Regal Cinemas, the second-largest movie theater company in the United States, will close its multiplex theater in Union Square.

Regal Cinemas announced that Union Square Stadium 14 is one of the 39 theaters that Cineworld Group PLC, Regal’s parent company, will shut down. Although an exact closing date for the location was not announced, the company will begin closures on Feb. 15.

Union Square Stadium 14 opened in 1998. It contains 17 screens and over 2,000 seats. The location underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2020. To attract audiences searching for more immersive experiences at the movies, the theater added a cafe in its lobby and premium viewing formats like 4DX, which includes in-theater special effects, and ScreenX, which uses three screens.

Cineworld filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2022 to cut costs and to identify “unprofitable, underperforming, or otherwise undesirable theater locations in the United States.”

As a result, Regal locations in major cities — such as Sherman Oaks 16 in Los Angeles, Fenway Stadium 13 in Boston, and South Beach Stadium 18 in Miami — are also set to close as their leases expire. Regal said that the closure of the 39 theaters will save the company about $22 million annually.

“The pandemic was an incredibly difficult time for our business, with the enforced closure of cinemas and huge disruption to film schedules that has led us to this point,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a press release, adding that “this will allow us to continue to execute our strategy to reimagine the most immersive cinema experiences for our guests.”

Before the announcement, Regal operated 492 locations in the United States. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc. — which are Regal’s main competitors — have 591 and 517 locations in the United States, respectively.

Compared to AMC’s revenue of $1.9 billion in the first half of 2022, Cineworld generated $1.52 billion in revenue during the same period. At the end of 2021, Cineworld reported $8.9 billion in debt and $4 billion in lease liabilities.

Major theater companies that have locations in Manhattan are AMC and Regal. Following the closure of Union Square Stadium 14, Regal will operate only three theaters in the borough, compared to the nine theaters that AMC operates. Regal previously closed another location in the city, UA Court Street.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced box offices as a whole to struggle, and Regal’s decision to close underperforming theaters was predicted by several industry analysts.

The North American box office grossed $7.4 billion in 2022. This is a decrease from the $11 billion that the industry made in 2018 and 2019.

Cineworld is talking with rival companies about the possibility of acquiring the Regal locations. It plans to accept non-binding bids for its assets starting on Feb. 16.

It’s possible for AMC or Cinemark to purchase the closing Regal locations. As of Jan. 30, it is unknown if Union Square Stadium 14 will be saved.