Empire Cinemas, a cinema chain in the UK, has closed six of its locations and faces the potential closure of eight more as it falls into administration. The company cited the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a cost of living crisis as major factors affecting its business. The closed Empire cinemas are located in Bishop’s Stortford, Catterick Garrison, Sunderland, Swindon, Walthamstow, and Wigan, leaving the latter two cities without a main cinema. The remaining sites will continue to operate as administrators seek a buyer.
According to local reports, employees arrived at their branches on Friday to find closure notices on the windows. BDO, the administrators, stated that Empire employed a total of 437 staff across England and Scotland. The closures have sparked an outcry on social media, with some patrons attributing the company’s difficulties to high ticket and concession prices in addition to the pandemic.
Empire Cinemas was established in 2005 through the mergers of Odeon and UCI, and Cineworld and UGC. The Office of Fair Trading ruled that the newly formed groups should divest some of their cinemas, creating an opportunity for Empire Cinemas to be formed. Prior to the closure of the six cinemas, the chain operated on 129 screens, including IMAX and IMPACT screens.