(WTVO) — Cineworld Group, the owner of Regal Cinemas, announced Wednesday that it would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The move casts a dark pall on the future of the movie theater industry, as AMC, the world’s largest theater chain, was saved from the brink last year by meme stock retail investors.
According to Deadline, Cineworld expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection in 2023, at which point it will pursue “a real estate optimization strategy in the US” that will include shutting or selling theaters.
Cineworld filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Yahoo Finance reported that the company had run up a debt of more than $5 billion.
Cineworld operates 747 movie theaters across the globe.
Last month, it warned that a lack of big-budget movies this fall would likely impact audience attendance, but Hollywood output was stalled by pandemic backlogs and supply chain issues.
During the bankruptcy case, Cineworld said it expects to operate its business without interruption and honor customer membership programs.
“Fortunately, AMC is in a very, very different situation — because retail investors embraced us and let us raise boatloads of cash,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a tweet after the announcement.
AMC was able to raise $2.2 billion over the past two years in a meme stock frenzy.
The US domestic box office for 2022 is down about 30% compared to 2019, according to Comscore.