China’s Box Office Losses Nearly $2billiion Due To Coronavirus Crisis
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, China’s box office has experienced a major nosedive of about $1.91 billion over the first two months of the outbreak.
In addition to this, a nationwide resumption of film theatres and production is unlikely to happen any time soon.
According to box-office data company Comscore, box-office receipts in China in January and February totaled only $238 million, compared with $2.148 billion in the comparative period in 2019, and $2.378 billion in 2018. Box office revenue for the whole of 2019 was a record of $9.2 billion, having risen 5.4%.
Losses spiked due to the fact that the popular Lunar New Year holiday season started on January 25, much earlier compared with the usual date at the beginning of February, or in mid-February.
“An early holiday season should’ve given more time for the box office to grow,” a report from China’s Ent Group said.
But many cinemas were forced to shut down just before the Lunar New Year holiday, and Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province were locked down prior to this.
Ent Group said that shuttered cinemas in China are unlikely to re-open in March, and Chinese officials have stated that controls will stay in place for the film industry as a whole.
“Judging from the current situation, the film industry is not equipped to resume business yet, and we have not approved industry’s demands to resume business as of now,” said Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government.
Furthermore, there is a joint directive from Beijing Center for Diseases Prevention and Control and Beijing Municipal Film Bureau on February 26 which stipulates strict guidelines for cinema operators and film crews if they wish to resume business.
Cinema operators must seek approval from the authorities to re-open film theatres and adopt stringent measures such as selling tickets on alternate rows, requiring cinema-goers to register with their real names and personal details, and auditoriums to be thoroughly disinfected after each screening.
As of March 2, Covid-19 has already infected more than 80,000 in mainland China and killed 2,914 people.