Staff have been made redundant and two locations in the North East have permanently closed their doors after a cinema chain announced they have entered administration.

Empire Cinemas, which operates locations in both Catterick and Sunderland, announced on social media this morning that the two branches in the North East have been closed with immediate effect.

In a statement online, Chief Executive Justin Robbins confirmed the news and stated the chain has been unable to recover from the “long-term” effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A full statement reads: “As a consequence of COVID-19, where we were mandated by Government to close down our cinema chain in its entirety for protracted periods in 2020 and 2021 and this left us with a high fixed cost base and no income.

“Cinema attendance levels have not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels and the operating environment remains extremely challenging.

“It has been a difficult economic environment for any business to manage through without long-term damage and having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve as many of our cinemas and the maximum number of jobs as possible.”

One worker who has been made redundant from Sunderland’s Empire Cinema told The Northern Echo she is “heartbroken” at the news.

She said: “I am so upset, and I just can’t believe what has happened. Nobody saw it coming and now we have all lost our jobs.

“It’s a huge loss for the town that will now be left without a cinema.”

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The fate of some of the cinemas is now unknown as some continue to trade whilst others are closed immediately like Sunderland and Catterick’s locations.

Empire Cinemas Wigan, Walthamstow and Bishop’s Stortford are now closed, whilst Birmingham’s Great Park Cinema and Ipswich are open and trading as normal.

Eyewitness reports from outside Sunderland's Empire Cinema state that food and other items are currently being removed from the locations after workmen arrived at the premises this morning.

Thirteen cinemas operated by Empire could now close after the company first started operating in 2005.