Streaming platform Youku team up with cinema chains in China to present a special “screening” of MARIA BY CALLAS (2017) on March 29 evening.

Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, cinemas in China were closed from late January for almost two months, until recently. On March 20, five specially negotiated films were released for the first time to support cinemas’ re-opening ahead. According to Maoyan’s official figure, on March 22, 523 cinemas reopened (16 more than the day before) with 623 screenings and a total box-office of £4,911.66 (a 33% daily increase ).

As cinemas gradually plan to reopen, different strategies have been experimented to re-engage the audience. Three cinema chains Broadway Cinemas, Cinema Palace and Lumière Pavilions have been supporting streaming platform Youku to curate a special online screening of MARIA BY CALLAS. The French documentary previously had a limited distribution via the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas in China. However, this special “screening” is not a usual streaming activity. To “attend” the screening, the audience is asked to purchase a ticket at the price of £0.73, via cinema and theatre ticketing Apps (Tao Piaopiao & Damai). There are 2030 seats/tickets available for this special screening. The number is designed in accordance to the exact seat number at Teatro alla Scala, the opera house. The total ticket revenue will then be donated to those who are still fighting against the virus at the frontline. A sum of the “box-office” will also be donated to Teatro alla Scala in Italy (Callas’s opera house), for protection materials. Also operating as a screening that you would normally get from an arthouse cinema, director Tom Volf will “join” the Chinese audience after the screening, online.

To some extent, this event will prepare the audience to be comfortable buying tickets again. This special screening will also invite them to participate in a “social” event after a long nation-wide isolation, almost like cinema-going.

Unlike other news we have heard recently about the rival between cinemas and streaming platforms due to COVID-19, this is in fact a more encouraging story.

We can all go through this together. 


Cinema Reopening Statistics: 

Day 3 – March 22: 523 sites, 623 screenings – BO £4,911.66

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 for the first time since Jan 23.


Previous COVID-19 special commentary:

3/21/2020 – 486 cinemas reopened in China as films officially released again

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