2022: A Bad Year for China’s Film Industry

Cinemas were banking on “Avatar: The Way of Water” to heal their pandemic-induced wounds, but that has turned out to be a disappointment, too.

Chinese cinemas had pinned their hopes on “Avatar: The Way of Water” to buoy the country’s struggling theaters hit hard by the pandemic. But the recovery, however, hasn’t been as expected.

While the much-anticipated sci-fi sequel of James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster “Avatar” has amassed around 530 million yuan ($76 million) in China so far since its release on Dec. 16, domestic ticketing platform Maoyan has now cut its potential total revenue forecast by around 1 billion yuan. And though the movie initially gave a boost to over 10,000 cinemas open for business — over 80% of the country’s total — the figure has started to drop this week.

The movie’s release comes as China let go of most of its COVID control measures in early December, with the virus ripping through the country. And while some hoped that this would help many struggling businesses and bring back the masses to cinemas, the opposite has happened — many people have chosen to stay home either due to infection or in fear of contracting the virus.

Zhu Teng, manager of three cinemas in the eastern province of Zhejiang and the southwestern Sichuan province, had anticipated the new Hollywood release could replicate the popularity of the first film from 13 years ago. But ticket sales for “Avatar: The Way of Water” — even though it accounted for most of his cinemas’ revenue in the past week — were only able to ease some of his financial woes.

“We didn’t expect that even ‘Avatar’ wouldn’t be able to save the movie market,” Zhu told Sixth Tone, adding that he expected the Lunar New Year holiday to be different. “The pandemic isn’t over. Audiences aren’t ready to return to cinemas yet.” Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone