The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace has closed today for an indefinite period, the day after Palace Cinemas shuttered temporarily its 17 sites.

As IF reported, Village Roadshow yesterday warned investors its cinemas and theme parks may be forced to close, citing international precedents.

All cinemas have reduced seating capacity to no more than 100 per screen and have introduced staggered seating.

The postponement of Hollywood titles Black Widow, Mulan, Fast & Furious 9, A Quiet Place II, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, No Time to Die and Into the Heights has left gaping holes in release schedules.

Transmission Films has pulled several upcoming releases including I Am Woman, The Very Excellent Mr Dundee and Hope Gap, and at least some other indie distributors are likely to follow.

The top 20 titles’ takings plummeted to an all-time low of $6.9 million in the week ending Wednesday. This weekend will be even worse with only one new wide release, Roadshow’s The Current War.

Yesterday the top 20 collectively grossed a lamentable $282,000, according to Numero, led by $66,000 for Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot as it started week 2 and $58,000 for Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man in week 4.

The Orpheum said: “After careful consideration of the latest advice issued by Federal and NSW Governments regarding non-essential mass gatherings as well as the ongoing safety concerns for our valued patrons, team members and local community we have made the incredibly difficult decision to close The Orpheum until further notice.

“Please rest assured that we endeavour to re-open the theatre again as soon as is reasonably possible and we will continue to provide Sydney with the most eclectic mix of mainstream, arthouse and foreign language cinema, international film festivals, premieres and Q&As, live concerts, retro events and cult classics.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support over the years and look forward to providing you with many more cherished movie memories in the near future.

“An additional huge thank you to the entire Hayden Orpheum Team who have worked tirelessly over the years to provide moviegoers with a unique cinema going experience.”

Customers who purchased tickets to sessions scheduled up to Wednesday April 15 will automatically be refunded.

Palace CEO Benjamin Zeccola said today: “Sombre end to a strange week without being able to go to the movies this weekend. However our landlords have been terrific, NAB have been supportive and our incredible staff team have been amazing in their grace. We will all bounce back soon enough and with great fanfare; when the time is right and everyone can stay safe.”

All screens at Cinema Nova are still operating but with adjusted start and finish times.

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