Cinemas in China were closed for 178 days between January of 2020 and late July of the previous year as PRC authorities on the mainland took stringent measures to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
Movie ticket sales in China stood at 20 billion yuan (US$3.06 billion) in 2020, much higher than the US $2.28 billion in box office receipts in the USA according to data from China’s Maoyan Entertainment and Comscore group. Ticketing revenue in China plummeted 69 % from the all-time high of 64.27 billion yuan (US$9.8 billion) in 2019. And in the US, ticket sales sank 80 per cent from the second-best box office haul ever of US $11.4 billion in 2019.
China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest box office market for the first time in 2019 in spite of falling revenues resulting from closures.
People watch a movie at a cinema in Wanda Group’s Oriental Movie Metropolis ahead of its opening, in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 27, 2018.(Reuters file photo)
Thousands of China’s movie screens could be shut forever
In 2019, China added 9708 new screens adding to an estimated 69,787 screens in mainland China and its provinces. A joint survey conducted by the China Film Association (CFA), the China Film Distribution and Screening Association and leading cinema chains including Wanda, which acquired AMC theaters in 2012.
With early infections being reported in January 23 of 2020 China and the USA took divergent paths in their reaction to reports that a virus had been detected in a live meat market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Where China instituted lockdowns that went into immediate effect to quell the spread the United States response was less clear cut. As physical proximity is by its very nature the quintessence of the theatrical experience China’s immediate proactive step to quell the possibility of a super spreader environment while bracing for a cliff hanger slide in ticket and concession revenue.
While China’s theaters were shuttered indefinitely back in the USA , Americans was celebrating The Miami Super Bowl and the passing of Kobe Bryant, R.I.P. oblivious of the long hard Covid road that lay ahead.