THE CLOSURE of Weymouth's Cineworld is 'an absolute disaster for the town' and heartbreaking for the staff affected, residents and businesses bosses have said.

The cinema giant is temporarily closing all 127 of its Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK and Ireland, putting more than 5,000 jobs at risk.

The Weymouth branch is among those to go, and will close its doors from Friday, October 9 until further notice. 

It comes as MGM again delayed the release of the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, until April 2021 and other major blockbusters such as Dune, Mulan, Black Widow, Wonder Woman postponed their releases.

Weymouth’s Cineworld branch, based on New Bond Street, reopened following lockdown on July 31 featuring a number of social distancing measures. Ticket prices were also slashed to as low as £4 for some films. 

The news have come as a blow to the community, with some residents expressing their concerns about its impact on Weymouth town centre. 

Dorset Echo: Inside Weymouth's Cineworld Inside Weymouth's Cineworld

Karen James shared on Dorset Echo's Facebook page: “This is heartbreaking for Weymouth and all the staff. There is no wet weather attractions now with MFA Bowl gone as well.

"What an absolute disaster for the town.”

Lizzie Millner commented that the town needs ‘some kind of new wet weather attraction’ following the loss of MFA Bowl and other leisure sites in recent years. 

She added: “Another nail in the coffin for Weymouth and there's nothing much left in the town now.

“I liked Cineworld as I could get into every screen as a wheelchair user.”

Amy White said she was ‘absolutely gutted’ by the news but feared the worst when she and a friend were the only guests inside the cinema on a recent trip. 

She said: “The last two weeks myself and my friend have had the whole cinema to ourselves, and we are unlimited members. 

“As soon as they announced Bond was delayed it was inevitable they wouldn’t manage to remain open for now.”

One regular visitor hoped it was only a temporary closure and called for film studios to help struggling cinema chains.

Dorset Echo: Residents fear people will visit Dorchester to watch films and spend their time there instead of Weymouth due to Cineworld's closureResidents fear people will visit Dorchester to watch films and spend their time there instead of Weymouth due to Cineworld's closure

He said: “It is a big blow and shock to Weymouth town centre. Years ago, if it was a wet and miserable day, you could either go to the cinema or have a game of bowling at MFA Bowl.

“Now you won’t be able to do both. I just feel for their staff during this difficult time. Perhaps the government and major film studios can help support cinema chains.

"Cinemas are so key for peoples’ social lives and their enjoyment as well as for the economy.” 

Craig Oakes, president at Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, said: "Locally it will have a big effect because the Cinema does get used in normal times and retains a fair few staff. 

“Our thoughts go out to those who have lost their employment and we are hopeful that there is something that will change things generally for the better in the future.”

Chief executive of Cineworld, Mooky Greidinger, said: "This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets - including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.

"We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was."

"At present there is no date for re-opening, however we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen."