On March 20, the specially negotiated five films were re-released officially. The total box-office for the first day was 11.2K RMB (£1.3K).

According to Maoyan Research Institute’s report today, on March 20, films were officially released for the first time theatrically, after the industry closed down since January 23. 486 cinemas (4.28% of total) in China reopened across the country. The total box-office taken was 11.2K RMB (£1,354.85).

Henan Province had the most number, 128 cinema sites reopened with 208 screenings scheduled. However, the box-office was zero. Fujian Province had 48 sites open with 50 screenings, and it took 21 RMB which is roughly the amount for one ticket. Sichuan Province had 41 sites open with 54 screenings and 495 RMB box-office. Guangdong Province (which is normally the top province for the country in terms of box-office) had 38 sites open with 179 screenings, zero box-office. Finally, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where it had the first cinema to open across the whole country, now with 24 sites and 252 screenings. Among all areas, Xinjiang took the most box-office with 11.12K RMB (£1,342.75). For your reference, the average ticket price in China last year was around £3.

On March 21, today, 507 cinemas (21 increase from the day before) reopened and the total audience number reached 1,511 with a box-office of 31K RMB (£3750.03). 

The so called “green-light” for cinemas to reopen in China is not an authoritative order from the central government/the State as many would assume. As captured by my commentary from March 18 onwards, different regions of the country have their own specific guidance in terms of cinema reopening. For example, in the city of Hangzhou (the birth place of Alibaba), the regional government has officially announced that all leisure businesses including cinemas and public spaces are now allowed to reopen. However, they must be aware of indoor air circulation, regular disinfection, crowd monitor as well as temperature check. Although the permission was given and that cinema sites are all prepared in the city, no cinema in Hangzhou programmed any of the five films on March 21. A cinema staff member from Hangzhou expressed, normally the KDM for DCPs lasts for one month and most of them are now expired apart from a few. Although we have five “donation” films to programme, there is still a lack of new films to fill in the schedule. Although another announcement about Harry Potter’s re-release has been issued by Warner Brothers, a specific time is yet confirmed. 

In addition, different city and its relevant bodies (from film bureaus to associations) have issued different guidances as an advice to support cinemas and their reopening. For instance, in the city of Shanghai (the top city for annual box-office in the country which also has the most mature cinema-going culture), cinemas are only allowed to reopen if they file a case with their local Shanghai Film Bureau. In addition, they also have to follow the official technical guidance issued by the Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association.

So far, the document which titled “Technical Guidance for Cinema Reopening and Prevention of Corona Virus Spreading” issued by the Shanghai Film Distribution and Exhibition Association is the most comprehensive among all. I am currently translating this document into English. With a permission given by the Association, I will share the English version with everyone as a reference to support their future work around the world.

We can all go through this together. 


Cinema Reopening Statistics: 

Day 2 – March 21: 507 sites, 684 screenings, BO £3,750.03

Day 1 – March 20: 486 sites, 743 screenings, BO £1,354.85

Day 1 refers to the first day when films were released again since Jan 23.


Previous COVID-19 commentary:

3/20/2020 – Warming up, first five films officially released in China

3/19/2020 – Re-release titles confirmed, cinemas take 100% box-office as China recovers from Covid-19

3/18/2020 – Public opinions on reopening cinemas in China, post COVID-19