According to a survey that the China Film Association released on May 27, 2020, the pandemic has had a severe adverse impact on the entire Chinese film industry. The survey was conducted in April, with questionnaires sent to select, mature, dynamic, and market-competitive cinemas. Four in ten cinemas may permanently close down. Since February, all cinemas have been in the red.
The survey showed that the national box office revenue for the first quarter dropped 88 percent year on year to 2.23 billion yuan (US$312 million). The cinemas with more than 2,000 seats saw the box office revenue decrease by 87.7 percent year-on-year. Those with 500-2000 seats by dropped 88 percent and smaller ones with less than 500 seats by 91.3 percent.
Over 90 percent of those surveyed were pessimistic about the short term prospects. Half believed that it will take at least 3 to 6 months to reach the same level as before the pandemic and 37 percent of the theaters believed that it will take more than half a year.
As many as 42 percent of the cinemas surveyed responded they are at risk of “closing the door.” Only 10 percent indicated that they may change hands and continue to operate. Finally, 28 percent said they are “waiting for the headquarters’ arrangements.”
The China Film Association estimated that if cinemas reopened in June and revenues gradually recovered to 90 percent of last year’s levels within six months, the box office revenue would be reduced by about 60 percent year-on-year for 2020.
In 2015, China surpassed the United States to become the country with the largest number of screens in the world, over 70,000 screens in 12,480 cinemas in 2019. Its annual box office revenue accounted for about a quarter of the world’s total. As of 2019, it was the second-largest film market in the world. China has been the largest overseas box office for Hollywood and in 2019 contributed 5.4 percent to the growth of the global film industry.
Sources: Sina.com, May 29, 2020.