BARNSLEY Council still expects Cineworld to occupy its 2,000-seat venue in the town centre - despite the cinema giant announcing the closure of all its sites across the country.

The structure of Cineworld’s building - touted as the flagship signing of the Glass Works regeneration scheme - is complete and is set to have 13 screens when it opens to the public next year.

Cineworld started reopening its cinemas from the end of July after shutting during the coronavirus lockdown, but announced it is closing all its sites again from today after major studios started to delay their biggest film releases.

A spokesperson said the firm faces an ‘extremely delicate’ situation.

They added: “We cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was to close again and we are lobbying the government to support our employees and the industry which has so much cultural significance.

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“We will do everything we can to save livelihoods and the company - this is an extremely delicate and tricky balance.

“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.”

Cineworld’s share price dramatically fell after the publication of its half-year results, which revealed a £1.3bn loss, and about 6,000 UK staff have lost their jobs.

This led to rumours that Barnsley’s new cinema would also face the axe due to growing uncertainty over the industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cineworld agreed a 20-year lease for the town centre 18,000sq ft site in 2017.

The company, the world’s second-biggest cinema operator, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, tlast weekend to warn them that the industry has become ‘unviable’.

However, the council confirmed work on the regeneration is continuing and told the Chronicle that its position ‘has not changed’.

They added: “It’s clear from the news about Cineworld that the cinema industry is going through a difficult period.

“However, as far as the council is concerned, Cineworld is still on track to open in Barnsley later next year.

“Cineworld is a key part of our town centre regeneration and we can’t wait for it to open its doors next year.

“There’s no getting away from the fact the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the retail and leisure industry, however we’re in a great position with the Glass Works.

“We’re moving ahead towards September 2021 and the completion of the Glass Works, including the opening of Cineworld.”