China has the second-largest film market in the world and has been closed down since January, weeks before North America shut down. Box office revenue losses are reported to be around $4.2 billion. That said, China has high hopes that the movie industry will come back according to the head of China’s Film Bureau.
A press conference was held in central Beijing before the end of April and announced that as of April 30, the capital city would lower the state of emergency. Bei Chen, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government made the announcement.
In May, Chen said that museums and indoor entertainment, including movie theaters, were expected to open their doors in early June. This means China’s enormous network of 70,000 movie screens will be up and running, Note - China has the most screens in any country in the world. Beijing’s central government made a statement on Wednesday the People’s Congress, the country’s largest annual political meeting will take place in May after a 2-month delay. It seems their announcements are being interpreted as a strong signal that the coronavirus outbreak is under control within the country.
Wang Xiaohui, chief of China’s Film Bureau and deputy director of the Communist Party’s propaganda department said the total suspension of movie films is estimated to have resulted in RB 30 billion or $4.2 billion in lost revenues. Movie theaters across the Middle Kingdom have been closed since January when the coronavirus turned into a national and then global emergency.
Wang also added that the government will offer a series of support policies for the film industry. Each regional film bureau will have its own support policies as well. At this time, details have not been released regarding what the support will include.
There are so many film companies, both large and small, that have claimed bankruptcy. Earlier this month, a state-run news source said more than 5,000 Chinese films and television companies have canceled or evoked their business registrations, that’s more than twice the total in 2019.
Wang also said the good news for exhibitors, the government will control theatrical film windowing from now on. This means that regulators may introduce rules preventing films for the big screen will be prevented from turning around to streaming services early on or whenever producers think it’s financially advantageous.
Early on during the theater shutdown, growing studio Huanxi Media was offered a great deal to release its comedy Lost In Russia over TikTok owner Byte Dance’s video platform instead of waiting for theaters to reopen. The partnership which involved an almost $100 million payout to Huanxi received praise in the industry for its audacity and quick response. This also caused outrage from the owners and operators of China’s largest theater chains.
In the meantime, the rest of the world has to question what coming out of China is true and what is probably just not. Stay tuned, only time will tell.