China’s Box Office Smashes Holiday Record as Crowds Pack Cinemas

With fewer Chinese traveling over the Lunar New Year due to COVID-19, the country’s cinemas have raked in over 6 billion yuan in just five days.

SHANGHAI — At noon on Monday, long lines had already formed outside a movie theater in the downtown Jing’an District. Several staff stood ready to check visitors’ tickets — as well as their temperatures and digital “health codes” — as they entered.

Going to the movies has become a Lunar New Year tradition in China over recent years, but the number of people visiting cinemas this holiday has been extraordinary.

China’s box office for the 2021 Spring Festival has reached 6 billion yuan ($930 million) as of 9 p.m. on Monday, according to big data platform Beacon, smashing the record for a Lunar New Year holiday with two days of the festival still to go.

The bumper revenues will provide a much-needed shot in the arm to China’s ailing film industry, which saw box office revenues plunge by two-thirds last year amid lengthy movie theater shutdowns.

The Spring Festival is the most important week of the year for the industry, with studios often timing blockbuster releases to coincide with the holiday. In both 2018 and 2019, the Lunar New Year box office exceeded 5 billion yuan and accounted for nearly 10% of total takings for the whole year.

A number of factors are contributing to the record cinema attendances this year, but the most important appears to be the historically low number of people traveling over the holiday due to the COVID-19 crisis. Ahead of the Lunar New Year, Chinese authorities urged people to “celebrate in place” to prevent a surge in infections, with many local governments ordering new arrivals to provide negative nucleic acid tests and self-isolate. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.