Cineworld has confirmed plans to reopen UK cinemas in May, in line with the current government guidance, and will reopen its Regal cinema chains in the US from April.

It means we could see the reopening of 127 outlets across the UK in May, if the government’s road map to economic recovery remains on track.

Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theatres and restore our essential role within the communities we serve.

“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most US states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.

“We will also be monitoring developments closely in the UK and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance.”

In addition, a deal has been struck with Warner Bros that gives the cinema chain, which also owns the Picture house franchise, exclusive rights to show films over streaming services.

An extended window of 45 days for films that open to an agreed-upon box office threshold has also been reached, it added.

Cinema chains have been fearful that, with the pandemic seeing studios turn to online platforms, it could set a longer term trend on new releases going straight into homes via PVOD services.

But Mr Greidinger said: “This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.”

The boss will be hoping for a strong return to cinemas, having persuaded shareholders in Cineworld to approve plans that could see him net a £65 million bonus in three years’ time if certain targets are hit.

The bonus – which is part of a pot for executives worth up to £208 million – had been described as “excessive”, especially since the company put 5,000 staff in the UK on to the Government’s furlough scheme.

Corporate governance experts questioned why the chief executive needs the bonus “incentive” to keep working at the business, considering his family already has a 20% stake in it.