The first “soldiers” are sent out to rescue cinemas in China officially, today.

As reported previously, the lack of films is a major issue that cinemas face as they are prepared to reopen while China recovers from the COVID19 outbreak. The intervention that China Film Group Co. did immediately was to negotiate five older films (both domestic and foreign) as a “donation”, where cinemas will take 100% box-office. This unique set up is unlikely to be copied by other countries but certainly a useful reference.

Certainly, not many expect these five titles will attract a positive box-office right away. Today, these five films are officially re-released and their information is also shown on Maoyan (China’s ultimate film release information mobile app). So far, there is hardly any ticket sales. However, as Maoyan also reveals that certain individual cinema in different cities has started to programme these films. According to a small survey conducted by WeChat account “Yiqipaidianying”, though, not many audience are interested in re-watching these films at a cinema. Perhaps a more diverse second batch of films (a mix of old and new) will be needed for a further encouragement. These five films have been given a two-month theatrical window while there is no cap for a minimum ticket price. It is important to note that all of these films are already available on streaming platforms in China.

Programming Details on March 20 (by city)

WOLF WARRIOR 2: Shanto, 1 screening, Chongqing, 2 screenings

THE WANDERING EARTH, Changji, 1 screening

CAPERNAUM: Jincheng, 1 screening

WOLF TOTEM: 1 screening programmed on March 21, 1 ticket pre-sold.

AMERICAN DREAM IN CHINA: no programming details.

(This is not the most accurate figure but only as a reference)

Other films to release

On March 19, it was also announced by Huaxia that Warner’s HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (2001)’s 4k restoration + 3D will join the second batch of re-releases. There are also rumours that the second list of old classics will include INTERSTELLAR and INCEPTION by Christopher Nolan, as well as the series of LORD OF THE RINGS and THE AVENGERS. It is reported that both China Film Group Co. and Huaxia are in active conversations with the Sudios regarding above titles.

JOJO RABBIT has now been scheduled for a limited release on April 3, via the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas network. 1917, DOLITTLE, FORD v FERRARI , BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, SONICE as well as DETECTIVE CHINATOWN 3 could possibly be released in mid-April although no confirmation yet.

A summary for other countries

As seen in the case of China, cinemas reopening is a gradual process but having enough film stocks to programme is an important first step. This issue might be easier for other countries to resolve if planned ahead, where its distribution market being more open than China. People are now slowly returning to work, though majority of the cinemas are still closed, apart from a few attempted to reopen. It will be important to observe China’s performance over the following weekends to illustrate a model as a reference for all.

We can all go through this together. 


Cinema Reopening Statistics: 

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


Previous COVID-19 special commentary:

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