The plight of the entertainment industry deepened on Monday as the British company Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas in the United States, said it would temporarily close all 663 of its movie theaters in the United States and Britain. The move was expected to affect 40,000 employees in the United States and 5,000 in Britain.
The chain had reopened in parts of the United States and Europe over the summer, but about 200 theaters, mostly in California and New York, have been shut since the pandemic began in the spring.
The news sent Cineworld’s stock spiraling. It fell as much as 60 percent when the stock market opened in London on Monday. It was later trading about 38 percent lower on the day.
The company said it could not entice viewers back without a pipeline of new films. The news came after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced on Friday it would push back the release date of the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” to April from this fall — the second time its release date has been delayed because of the pandemic.
Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive of Cineworld, said on Sky News that delays in the opening of many films — including “Mulan,” “Black Widow,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” as well as the Bond movie — meant the company “didn’t have the goods” for customers.
“It’s the wrong decision from the studios to move the movies in such a way,” Mr. Greidinger said.
He added that he felt the company had been able to reopen with enough health and safety precautions to welcome back customers, and cited “Tenet,” the Christopher Nolan film that opened in August and September, as the most significant release this year. It has made more than $300 million in the box office globally but just $45 million of that was in the United States.
The delays by studios in releasing what would have been before the pandemic blockbuster movies, is hurting theaters all over the world. Tim Richards, the chief executive of Vue International, said that the studios were being too U.S.-centric by not acknowledging reopenings in Europe and China. “We are struggling. We are absolutely struggling,” he said on Sky News.
Mr. Greidinger did not specify when Cineworld and Regal theaters might reopen. That “might be in two months, it might even a little bit longer,” he said.
In September, Cineworld reported a pretax loss of $1.6 billion for the first half of 2020. In total, the company operates 780 cinemas and is leaving about 100 locations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania open. Last year, 90 percent of the company’s revenue was generated in the United States and Britain.
In a memo to staff in Britain, Mr. Greidinger said: “Unfortunately, we cannot operate without a proper flow of products and sadly, you, like I, have seen audience numbers dwindle to tiny and unsustainable levels and the delay of Bond has been a huge blow.”
He did not say what would happen to workers’ jobs. The British government has announced a new job support program, in which…