Cinema chains Odeon, Cineworld and Picturehouse are shutting all their UK screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people to avoid public venues.
Cinema UK, which represents the industry, said “most UK cinema sites” would close in the coming days following the government advice.
Theatres in London’s West End and around the UK have already closed, and many concerts have been called off.
Cinema UK said: “The priority now is to ensure that thousands working in the sector are helped during an exceptionally challenging period for them, and that UK cinema venues are supported during what, for many, represents an unprecedented challenge to their existence.”
Odeon has more than 120 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, while Cineworld has 100, and also runs 24 Picturehouse sites. The BFI’s Southbank complex has also been shut.
An Odeon spokesperson said: “In line with the latest government guidance on Covid-19, we are temporarily closing our cinemas.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and look forward to welcoming back guests as soon possible.”
Cineworld Group chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “At Cineworld and Picturehouse we are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests and have therefore made the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice.
“We deeply value our cinema-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving everyone again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters and the best of independent films and content.”
Mr Johnson was heavily criticised by the entertainment and nightlife industries for advising people to stay away while not forcing venues to close, which could have given them financial protection.