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RPT-UPDATE 1-Closures 'not an option' for cinema chain Kinepolis

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Oct 5 (Reuters) - Closing cinema doors is “not an option” as customers trickle back into theatres, Belgium-based Kinepolis told Reuters on Monday, after Cineworld announced closures affecting as many as 45,000 jobs.

Cineworld, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain said it would close its UK and U.S. cinemas this week, as it fights a coronavirus-related collapse in film releases and cinema-going.

“We are not considering to close our cinemas again,” said Anneleen Van Troos, the corporate communications manager for Kinepolis, stressing that people were willing to come back, with new content like ‘Tenet’ on the screen.

The company has 55 cinemas in Europe, plus 45 in Canada and 10 in the United States.

The group was opening its MJR cinemas in Michigan later this week, and following that all its theatres, which had been closed during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns this spring, would be open, Van Troos added.

The group had seen a rise in visitor numbers since the summer and was now at 35-50% of its pre-COVID forecasts, she said. The company expects further improvement during autumn and winter, traditionally a better season for cinemas.

“Of course, we do not hide the fact that James Bond would have given us a very good push,” Van Troos said, referring to the new 007 franchise film postponed until the spring of 2021.

Kinepolis’ chief executive predicted in August that the rise of online streaming for films during the pandemic would only be a temporary setback to the cinema industry. (Reporting by Milla Nissi in Gdansk Editing by Keith Weir)