China's Movie Theaters Finally Reopen, But It Won't Be the Same

By Bridget O'Donnell, May 11, 2020

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Movie buffs have something to look forward to this spring, as China’s Cabinet has given cinemas the green light to finally reopen.

But there’s a catch. Theatergoers can only preorder tickets ahead of time, and cinemas must limit visitors, according to new rules for indoor and outdoor entertainment venues issued by the State Council on May 7. 

The regulations call for “appointment-based tourism” measures at parks, tourist attractions, museums and art galleries across the country. Such restrictions are aimed at preventing further COVID-19 outbreaks.

READ MORE: Beijing Museums & Parks Finally Reopen, But There’s a Catch

The new rules don’t provide an exact timeline for movie theaters and other entertainment venues to reopen. But it could take several weeks for movie theater chains to develop proper opening standards that meet local guidelines and requirements, according to The Beijing News.

China’s film industry has taken a hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-run newspaper Global Times reports that cinemas across the country lost RMB11.5 billion in January and February of this year. The domestic box office, meanwhile, is expected to lose more than RMB30 billion in 2020.

While the news of theaters reopening is certainly promising, industry experts expect it will take a while for the industry to fully recover.

“A shortage of film supply and the ‘don’t sit next to each other’ policy will make it hard for the industry to rebound any time soon,” Beijing-based industry analyst Wang Dong told GT.

Still, experts are hopeful, with some predicting new film releases hitting Chinese theaters as early as June.

READ MORE: All Chinese Regions Now Downgraded to ‘Low’ Risk Level

[Cover image via SimonQ錫濛譙 on Flickr]

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