Chinese Cinemas Prepare to Reboot Business

Movie theaters will follow social distancing rules and screen both old and new releases when they open.

China’s entertainment venues have been given the green light to reopen, but industry insiders are adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude about whether business will rebound.

The central government’s guideline approved the opening of indoor venues — including cinemas, theaters, and karaoke facilities — that had previously been shuttered soon after resuming business over fears of a COVID-19 resurgence. However, following the monthslong interruption, the film production companies, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues preparing to reopen and return to normalcy are facing more uncertainties than other sectors.

Bao Yaopei, a movie theater manager in downtown Shanghai, told Sixth Tone her business is still waiting for notice from the local authorities to reopen, as the central government’s directive didn’t give a timeline.

“We are ready at a moment’s notice (to reopen), but we are still keeping a cautious attitude about the market,” she said, adding that it’s difficult to predict the exact date for resuming business, as well as future attendance.

In January, as COVID-19 swept across China, tourist sites and entertainment venues were ordered to shut down amid concerns that the contagion could spread wherever people congregated. The country’s film industry, as well as its theaters, were among the hardest-hit sectors, with more than half a dozen new releases halted and the Lunar New Year box office — normally peak moviegoing season — hammered by quarantines and home isolation.

According to an estimate from the country’s National Film Bureau, the pandemic could result in more than 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) in box office losses, or close to 50% of the previous year’s total revenue. Thanks to hits like sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth” and teen drama “Better Days,” last year’s box office raked in a record-breaking $9.2 billion, while the rival movie market in the United States collected $11.26 billion. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.