Coronavirus Lockdown Cripples Chinese Box Office: Will Hollywood Movies Take a Hit?

Jeremy Fuster

China’s ongoing fight against the spreading coronavirus epidemic has caused a widespread shutdown of the country’s economy, including the closure of more than 70,000 movie theaters. The timing could not have been worse for Chinese movie theater chains, as the outbreak came during the Lunar New Year, by far the most popular time for moviegoing in what is becoming the world’s largest box office market. To get a sense of how important the two-week Lunar New Year period is to China’s annual box office grosses, consider the following: Last year, combined revenue on the first day of the holiday set a new single day record for the market, and grosses for the entire period came in at approximately $835 million in U.S. dollars. Since the period extends into February, the success of films released for the holiday helped set a new monthly record for February of $1.6 billion. Also Read: Sundance Box Office: Will 2020 Entries Thrive Compared to 2019's Under-Performers? To support local film production, the Chinese government has long mandated that only Chinese films be screened in movie theaters during Lunar New Year. Films like “Aquaman” in 2019 and “Frozen II” in 2020 ended their theatrical runs much...

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