CINEMA giant Cineworld has revealed the impact of theatre closures during the pandemic as it reported a pre-tax loss of over $3 billion.

The cinema chain, which will begin reopening in the US next month and in the UK in May, said it has moved to boost its liquidity by raising $213 million from a bond issue.

It also warned of “negative impact” if cinemas are forced to close again in coming months under Covid restrictions or if studios delay movie releases.

Cineworld said it had an operating loss of $2.25bn against a $724.7m profit after revenues plummeted by 80 per cent and admissions tumbled from $275m to $54.4m, but added that is hopeful of "strong pent-up demand" once sites reopen. It had a pre-tax profit of $212.3m in 2019.

Shares plunged as much as 14% at one stage as it also warned there were still "material uncertainties" over its ability to continue as a going concern, given the potential for further disruption to its sites and movie releases.

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However, the group said it is hopeful of a recovery thanks to vaccine progress and the pent-up demand once its cinemas open in the US from April 2, in the UK from May 17, and the rest of the world also in May.

Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld chief executive, said he wants to "leave 2020 behind" and expects a particularly strong summer.

"I think we will have a mix of new and old films in May, but by summer we should just have a really strong slate of new movies,” he said. “It will be different from when we reopened last year because of the vaccine, that puts us in a much better positions.

"Also, last year the only big release we really had was Tenet and this year, with Bond, the new Top Gun and Matrix films, that will get people fired up again for the cinema experience."

HeraldScotland: Cinemas have gone through lengthy periods of closure since last March. Picture: Getty Images.Cinemas have gone through lengthy periods of closure since last March. Picture: Getty Images.

He also said: “At Cineworld, I never imagined a time that we would see the closure of our entire cinema estate, nor that varying restrictions would remain in place for so long as we continue to navigate our way through this crisis.

“We have worked hard to strengthen the long-term prospects of the business and, looking forward, Cineworld enters 2021 confident about the next chapter in our development; not least the intention to reopen our cinemas starting April 2.”

The group's 767-cinema estate including theatres across Scotland has been shut for lengthy periods since last March.

HeraldScotland: CINEWORLD GROUP PLC. Source: London Stock Exchange.CINEWORLD GROUP PLC. Source: London Stock Exchange.

Cineworld said: "Looking forward, the outlook is more positive, with restrictions expected to ease in light of the vaccination programmes under way across our territories."

Alicja Kornasiewicz, chair of Cineworld, said: "The group has demonstrated resilience through what has been a very difficult year and I am extremely proud of the commitment our colleagues have shown during these exceptional times. Despite the significant challenges that Covid-19 continues to present, we look forward to reopening cinemas worldwide and welcoming our guests."

The group separately announced moves to boost its battered balance sheet by the $213m bond fundraising.

The shares fall on Thursday comes after the stock has fought back since it warned it was temporarily shutting its UK and US cinemas at the start of October.

Its shares had more than quadrupled since its October low, when the company confirmed its 5,500 UK staff were at risk due to its plan to hibernate sites.

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The group revealed a deal earlier this week with Warner Bros to secure the release of the movie giant's films on Cineworld screens for up to 45 days before they are streamed on the studio's HBO Max platform.

Cineworld also revealed in its central forecast that it only expects to achieve 60% of 2019 admissions even if it opens all its cinemas as expected in May.

The group said it expects to gradually recover to 95% of 2019 admissions in 2023.

Harry Barnick, senior analyst at Third Bridge, said: "After enduring a year of blank screens and empty theatres Cineworld is keen to emphasise the imminent return of cinema-goers. However, our experts say cinemas are unlikely to see 2019 attendance levels until 2023 and point to how Cineworld continues to suffer from its large debt pile. The cinema chain will go into cash preservation mode: labour cuts, rent negotiations and postponed refurbishments can all be expected."

He added: "Cineworld’s deal with Warner Bros sets a new precedent for the theatrical window."

Shares closed at 95p, down 7.59%, or 7.8p.