China closes all movie theaters, reversing trend of reopening

Business & Technology

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SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Are movie theaters in China an unofficial indication of the country’s success, or failure, at eradicating the COVID-19 outbreak? Per the Hollywood Reporter:

Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown.

No official explanation for the sudden reversal was provided. Industry insiders instantly began speculating that the government was worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.

The decision was another major blow to the already-fragile movie business in China. Back in January, China’s film regulators ordered nearly 70,000 screens in around 10,000 venues to shutter, while a slew of local film releases were postponed indefinitely. As of the end of February, analysts estimated that Chinese box offices lost roughly $2 billion over the first two month of this year.

Other COVID-19 news from China:

Social monitoring and control has intensified in the past week with mandatory quarantine requirements for all who return from abroad in an attempt to stave off a second wave of infections.

A British man who returned to Shanghai after traveling abroad and refused to go to a government-approved quarantine facility came under intense fire after the local government made an exception for him — asking his wife and toddler to leave their apartment so that he could stay at home.

China has also temporarily banned foreigners, including those with residence permits, from entering the country. While this may be a sensible move, it’s hard to forget China’s lashing out at other countries for issuing similar travel restrictions in recent months.