Cineworld Exploring Sale Of UK Cinemas

Movies

After emerging from bankruptcy in the U.S. last summer, Regal parent Cineworld is exploring options for its UK business which could include a potential sale or restructuring, Sky News reported over the weekend.

According to the report, the world’s second largest cinema operator has enlisted AlixPartners, which helped its lenders navigate bankrupcty, as consultant and contacted prospective bidders in recent days. City sources told Sky News that the sale process was expected to run for several weeks.

Cineworld is also expected to explore the option of a company voluntary arrangement — a further step in its restructuring process — which could put an unspecified number of its UK cinemas at risk of closure.

A spokesperson for Cineworld provided the following statement to Deadline: “Like many businesses, we are continually reviewing our UK operations.”

Cineworld filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. in 2022, flattened by Covid and debt. It exited last August. Around the same time, the UK public company was delisted, leaving lenders in control, and they tapped Eduardo Acuna as the new CEO. 

Amid the U.S. bankruptcy process last year, Cineworld determined that it would cease seeking a buyer for its businesses in the U.S., UK and Ireland absent an all-cash bid significantly in excess of the value established under its proposed restructuring. It similarly terminated the marketing process for its businesses outside of those markets.

Cineworld is now private so doesn’t report earnings. Acuna told Deadline in late February, “We actually made a lot of money last year… We actually did better than we expected.”

At the time, he said, “I’m an optimist. I want to see the silver lining, where we put our company in order, fix everything that needs to be fixed. And we are set up for success in 2025 and 2026 … and in a couple of years, we’ll be playing offense, not defense.”

As with much of the exhibition industry, the fallout from Covid and then the dual Hollywood strikes last year have impacted business with large gaps in the release calendar. Things started looking up somewhat this weekend as Sony’s Bad Boys: Ride or Die exceeded expectations in its global opening with the UK the top overseas market. 

Up ahead there’s hope that Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out 2, Universal/Illumination’s Despicable Me 4 and Disney/Marvel’s Deadpool & Wolverine will help further cash and momentum at turnstiles. 

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