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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Chinese Movie Theaters Open for Business

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
People wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus watch the film "Dolittle" at a movie theater in Beijing, Friday, July 24, 2020.

With a daily focus on the millions of COVID-19 cases around the world, it may not seem like a good time to go to a movie theater. But in China, many theaters around the country have re-opened — and they’re getting customers. 

It may sound hard to believe, but nearly half the movie theaters in China are back in business.

Theaters are limited to 30% of their capacity – physical distancing is in place and, of course, face masks are required. The China Film Administration says the only way patrons can buy tickets is online.

Theaters are discounting admissions, and an industry group called Maoyan Entertainment reports that after being open for about a week, ticket sales approached 16-million dollars. That’s better than many initial projections, but you can get a little perspective on that number by considering China’s overall movie ticket sales last year — a little more than 9-billion dollars.

About a week ago, movie theaters were allowed to open in low risk areas — after being closed for nearly six months.

Maoyan Entertainment put out a report this week saying that movie screenings have grown by nearly ten times since then.

Variety reports that five out of the top ten movies at the Chinese box office this past weekend were Hollywood titles.

And as with all matters of public health, conditions are subject to change. Movie theaters in the northeastern city of Dalian were suddenly closed late last week, because of a local surge in the number of cases of COVID-19.

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