Coronavirus Outbreak: China re-opens more than 500 cinema halls amid reports of decreasing number of new cases

Ticket sales slow as film theatres start to reopen in China, just as Australia orders shutdown of cinemas due to coronavirus

FP Staff March 24, 2020 18:02:00 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: China re-opens more than 500 cinema halls amid reports of decreasing number of new cases

After months of being battered by the coronavirus outbreak, things have begun to return to normalcy in China. As the country reports decreasing numbers of new coronavirus cases, hundreds of Chinese movie theaters have started to re-open.

State-run CGTN first reported that 486 movie theaters had reopened Friday after two days of no new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 being reported. The number of open theaters rose to 507 by Monday on the back of a weekend with no confirmed cases of locally transmitted COVID-19.

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The reopened theaters were spread across five provinces: Xinjiang, Shangdong, Sichuan, Fujian and Guangdong. There are expected to be more theaters reopening through April.

Coronavirus Outbreak China reopens more than 500 cinema halls amid reports of decreasing number of new cases

Movie theatres | File Image

Most of the films currently available are re-runs of recent and popular Chinese movies, a move that is intended to minimise risk. According to Chinese ticketing firm Maoyan, 2019 Chinese crime thriller Sheep Without A Shepherd led the box office chart on Monday, ahead of new release iQIYI-backed animation Spycies.

Variety writes that China's distributors' group also revealed a list of Hollywood films including Green Book and A Dog's Purpose that might be re-run. Warner Bros. is planning a potential re-release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to help rejuvenate Chinese theaters, but no release plan as yet been announced and it does not appear on ticketing websites.

Reports state that the open theaters accounted for less than $2,000 in ticket sales, with not a single ticket sold in Fujian and Guangdong. China Global Television cited a recent survey that showed most residents were still concerned about leaving their homes to be in crowds and are waiting for newer films to be released in theaters.

On Sunday, the Australian federal government ordered the closure of cinemas across the country, with effect from Monday – and with no end date set. In the US, major theater chains like AMC Theatres (the biggest theater chain in the world) and Regal have closed all US locations in accordance with national guidelines that limit public gatherings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Still in operation to a degree are Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Korea and Japan though each with limitations.

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