Odeon is to open nine of its cinemas on Christmas Day in a move that church leaders say could "ruin" the Christian holiday.
On its website, the company says: "This Christmas Day, join us for a spellbinding seasonal celebration. We'll be opening nine of our cinemas to share the festive fun, magic and excitement with you, your family and your friends.
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"Round up mum, dad, bro, sis, your BFFs – the more the merrier! – and get set to be inspired by our mighty Christmas cheer and some of the year's biggest releases."
But speaking to the Daily Mail, Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder of church lobby group Christian Concern, said: "The stillness of Christmas Day in our country is one of the last reminders of our great Christian heritage.
"It is a day when, together with family and loved ones, we remember something greater than ourselves – the birth of Jesus Christ with his message of salvation, hope, peace and goodwill that is for all of us. Do we want to ruin this?"
While visiting the cinema on Christmas Day is not a traditional activity in the UK, it is popular among Americans.
When Showcase Cinemas announced in 1997 that it wanted to open its theatres on Christmas Day, a spokeswoman in the States told the Independent: "Here it is popular after a big and busy Christmas dinner to get the kids out of the house and to the cinema."
But Steve Jenkins, of the Church of England, said: "We don't like Christmas Day opening but not because we are killjoys. Everybody needs a change of pace now and then to stop and reflect. We're already losing Sundays. We need Christmas to help us meet human and spiritual needs."
The nine Odeon cinemas to open on 25 December are Glasgow Quay, Greenwich, Leeds Bradford, Leicester, London Leicester Square, London Marble Arch, Manchester Printworks, Milton Keynes Stadium and Rochdale.