43 Days After Re-opening, Chinese Movie Theaters See New Life

Maoyan Research Institute on Sept. 1 released a report summarizing the first stage of cinemas reopening, which lasted for 43 days, revealing a revived movie market in China.

After about 6 weeks of reopening, around 75% of all Chinese cinemas have resumed operations and the total number of screenings is 50% compared with the same period last year. 

The numbers bounced back significantly compared to the situation in previous months. 

Back in late January 2020 when COVID-19 hit China, Chinese cinemas were forced to shut down. Until July 20, only movies theaters in low-risk areas of China were allowed to reopen and resume operations under strict control measures and regulations. 

The China Film Administration also published a series of rules for cinemas and audiences to follow, including ordering tickets online, purchasing with real names, selecting seats one meter apart, maintaining a total seat capacity under 30%, among other regulations. 

Due to government orders to close cinemas, Chinese movie theater giants like Wanda Film Holing Co., Ltd experienced an unprecedented loss. Wanda Film in July reported a year-on-year decrease of 73.93% in revenue in the first half of 2020 as well as a net loss of about 1.57 billion yuan, compared to a profit of 524 million yuan in the same period last year. 

The China Film Association warned that as of the end of May, 47% of Chinese theaters had encountered challenges in cash flow while 42% of cinemas may even face bankruptcy. 

The permission for reopening dissipated the winter cold for cinemas and brought back hope to the long-closed theaters as well as the whole movie industry. 

During the 43 days, the cumulative number of viewers exceeded 100 million, with a total box office of 3.6 billion yuan and a successive single-day box office of over 100 million yuan in the last 11 days.

As COVID-19 gradually fell under control in most provinces in China, total seat capacity increased to 50% in the past 18 days. 

Since cinemas resumed operations, 110 movies have been screened across China, including 26 from China and 84 from other countries. The movie The Eight Hundred by Chinese film director Guan Hu topped the list with a box office of over 2 billion yuan, taking up about 55% of the summer’s total box office revenue. 

SEE ALSO:Remastered Harry Potter Film Gets Re-screen in China

Movie theaters took another approach of re-screening classic films to revive the business. 

Among all 110 films, 69 of them are new movies while 41 are re-screens, including comics, animated movies, action films, and fantasy movies. Viewers once again saw blockbusters like Interstellar and Inception on the big screen.

The most phenomenal re-screening was the remastered version, in both 3D and 4K, of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, whose box office ranked third on the list.