The movie business has just been dealt another major blow as theaters in China are once again being forced to close their doors. The country has been on near-total lockdown for two months as the initial epicenter of the situation the world currently finds itself in. With that, movie theaters have been closed for weeks on end, until recently when a small percentage of these exhibitors began to reopen their doors, providing a ray of hope that things could at least begin to return to normal. Those hopes have now been dashed.
According to multiple reports, China's national film bureau has ordered that all cinemas must close again. This comes after more than 5 percent of the country's theaters had reopened over the past week. The 500, give or take, theaters that had reopened their doors were mostly in less populated areas of China. However, things were looking even brighter as Shanghai, one of the biggest cities in the country, was set to reopen more than 200 theaters. Those plans have now been axed for the foreseeable future.
This re-closure opens up a host of questions about the uncertain future the movie business faces. For one, there has been much discussion regarding President Trump opening up much of the U.S. again soon, possibly by Easter Sunday. If that does happen and circumstances begin to worsen again, the U.S. could see a similar five steps forward, five steps back situation. This could also impact how other countries handle the re-opening of their respective movie theaters, as virtually every major country around the world has the majority of screens shut down right now, save for a few exceptions.
Another concerning point is that people, generally speaking, were not turning up to the theaters that had opened back up in China before they were ordered to close again. This could easily be attributed to moviegoers still wary of large crowds, given what's been going on. There is also the matter of having little to show. Hollywood studios were forced to delay many major releases in China, including Sonic the Hedgehog, 1917, Dolittle and others, which were expected to open in late April, but that may change given the re-shuttering of theaters. To combat this issue, a growing number of past hits were being scheduled to showcase in the nation's theaters. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Wolf Warrior 2, The Wandering Earth, Avatar and the entire Avengers franchise were all scheduled for re-releases, amongst others, to help give life back to the exhibition business.
The concern here is whether or not China's theatrical business can recover after all of this is over. China is currently the second-largest moviegoing country in the world, which has become crucial for major blockbusters and has even turned would-be flops into relative hits in some cases. This is just one example of how the entertainment industry could be permanently changed as a result of what we're experiencing. This news comes to us via Variety.