Movie theaters in cities across China opened their doors to the public for the first time in six months Monday, raising industry hopes that the severe revenue losses that have plagued the world’s second-largest film market since the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic may finally be nearing an end.
Chinese regulators said last week that cinemas in low-risk areas would be given the green light to resume business, provided they followed an array of new public safety protocols. Cinema chains have scrambled in the days following the announcement to ready their staff — many of whom were furloughed since February — and to cobble together a lineup of films to show.
The coronavirus has been well contained in China since March and most of the country is now categorized as low-risk. But it was clear Monday that the cinema industry’s restart will be a gradual process that won’t happen overnight. The country’s largest cinema chain, Wanda Film, told The Hollywood Reporter that it opened just 43 of its more than 600 multiplexes on Monday. Many theaters were up and running in cities stretching from Shanghai to Sichuan Provence, but cinemas in the capital Beijing, which was hit with a COVID-19 flareup last month, remain shuttered.
Total ticket sales for the day had reached just shy of $475,000 (RMB 3.3 million RMB) by around 8:30 p.m. local time, according to data from leading ticketing app Maoyan.
China’s box office totaled $9.2 billion in 2019. Prior to Monday’s reboot, ticket sales for 2020 were just $315 million.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios
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