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Regal movie theater chain to shutter movie houses

“Shaken but not stirred” is the catchphrase that Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond says, referring to how he likes his martinis. 

However, recent news might indeed shake, stir and actually strangle the intrepid super spy. Some 536 Regal movie theaters with approximately 7,000 screens are scheduled to receive a collective karate chop to the throat and shut down due to the delay of the latest 007 installment, “No Time to Die,” until 2021, according to reporting by NPR.

A dark and shuttered Regal-Edwards theater at Santa Clarita’s Valencia Town Center sits dormant as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its stranglehold on local businesses.

Less than two months after Regal, the second-largest movie chain in the U.S., began to open selected locations throughout the country, the unrelenting vice-grip of COVID-19 has all but choked out a number of blockbuster Hollywood releases scheduled for the summer and late fall. Regal, which also has approximately 100 theaters in the U.K., will shutter those movie houses as well.

The mood locally at Regal-Edwards in the Valencia Town Center seemed reminiscent of yet another arch-enemy of the beleaguered secret agent, hell-bent on taking over the world, with our protagonist tied up and about to meet his doom. Except, in this case, COVID-19 is the arch-enemy and all of us that have been stuck in the house for the past seven months, social-distancing and wearing masks, are the protagonists.

A traffic sign at the Valencia Town Center directing patrons to the Regal-Edwards theaters reads, “short term.” The sign appears to have a double-entendre after the recent news.

“It’s sad,” says Jamie Garcia, a local medical assistant. “Obviously entertainment has so many positive effects on us. It’s a stress reliever, just by laughing it’s good for your health. To be able to step away from the everyday stresses of life and kind of escape by going to watch a good movie, it’s just healthy.” 

Waxing more about the local economic effect causes SCV resident Stephanie Patterson to become a bit more irritated. 

“Why theaters aren’t open is beyond us,” she said. “You don’t want to know what I think about the local policies affecting the closures. At least they could let the theaters make some money by allowing people to sit with one or two seats in between. Other states are doing it.”

Santa Clarita residents Stephanie Patterson and her friend Patricia Morgan discuss the closure of the Regal-Edwards movie theater at Valencia Town Center in Santa Clarita.

Patterson may not be the only one irritated as now more than 40,000 Regal employees in the U.S. and more than 5,000 in the U.K. are facing furloughs, NPR reported.

“This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support a safe and sustainable re-opening in the U.S.,” said Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, in a statement, according to NPR.

The good news is you don’t have to travel to some far off, exotic location like 007 to catch a great flick. Drive-in theaters are open in L.A. County and throughout most of Orange County. Just log on to www.fandango.com for the nearest open movie theater near you.

Additional Reporting: Jackie Cardenas, Colin Ferguson, Sara Hicks and Felipe Gonzales.

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