Cineworld, owner of theater chain Regal Cinemas, is shutting down all of its U.S. and UK operations on Thursday after a series of postponements of major blockbuster films and the state of, well, everything. 

Movie theaters are one of the industries most visibly impacted by COVID-19, and the shutdown of Regal Cinemas, the second largest theater chain in the U.S., is the latest chapter in the industry’s slow, painful decline. For years, streaming services have been eating up portions of the movie theater market, particularly in the last year as major, award-winning films like The Irishman and The Two Popes had simultaneous or limited theater-streaming releases, and as blockbusters have made their way to streaming services with increasing speed.

Aside from the theaters themselves, some of the country's biggest REITs will be hit hard by these closures. The below table lists the 10 REITs with the most currently open Regal Cinemas locations. It is important to note that the number reflected shows the number of open theaters under each REIT in the history of our tracking the company's data, and that some REITs have already been affected by previous closures. Simon Property Group, for example, has had 12 open Regal locations in recent history, but currently has 10.

💎 Data Digs



# of Regal Cinemas locations


Simon Property Group



CBL Associates Properties



Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust



KLNB Retail



Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust



General Growth Properties



Shopping Center Group



Kimko Realty



Westfield Shopping Centers





Simon Property Group ($SPG), the largest REIT in the country, is also the REIT most affected by Regal's closures. Our data shows that Simon Property Group currently has 10 open Regal Cinemas locations. Its locations are concentrated in the eastern half of the country, with locations across the midwest, southeast and northeast United States as opposed to being grouped in one region of the country like some other REITs on our list, though it has a significant presence in Florida. SPG is having it rough these days, as they were also the REIT most affected by the closure of Century 21 stores across the nation earlier this year. 

Our map shows a more detailed breakdown of which REITs are more likely to be affected by region. Merlone Geier, despite not appearing on the top 10 REITs with open locations, is one of the most affected on the west coast with several California locations, while General Growth Properties has locations scattered across the Pacific northwest. KLNB and Peterson Companies have the largest presence on the east coast with six locations between them.

  • None of Regal’s competitors in the movie theater industry (or their associated REITs) stand to gain from the closures because all of them are suffering from the same pains as Regal: no new films, expensive cost of entry, and a pandemic preventing them from opening in full capacity and deterring customers.
  • Job listings at AMC, the largest theater chain in the U.S., are down from 648 to 118 - a 84% decrease. Regal hasn’t been hit in the job listings area yet, but likely will soon as it plans to close its theaters this Thursday. 

⚔️ Big Picture

  • The real winners here are streaming services, which have exploded under COVID-19 and are even starting to be explored as alternative release methods for films by major companies like Disney. App ratings for three of the largest streaming apps available are up dramatically from their January numbers and are only rising. 
  • The living room is the new movie theater. Disney+ has seen a huge boom thanks to COVID-19, growing 188% since January. The app has seen a number of blockbuster movie events on its own. Earlier this summer, it hosted a live recording of hit broadway musical Hamilton, which drove up subscriptions and buzz about the app. Recently, the live-action adaptation of Mulan also made its way to the app in lieu of a theater release. 
  • Netflix and newcomer HBO Max are also growing at breakneck speeds. Netflix lost a massive chunk of its reviews from March 20-25 (when there was a purge of reviews on the app store that affected multiple apps), but it’s count has since increased by 38%. HBO Max, launched in the middle of the year, has increased its review count by 106% - an impressive 5,000 or so reviews since it first launched.

Doomsayers have long predicted the end of the movie theater as we know it thanks to streaming services. But COVID-19 could be the final nail in the coffin.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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