CHINA China's cinemas move up to 50% occupancy this weekend


China's cinemas move up to 50% occupancy this weekend

19:25, August 13, 2020

Posters of blockbusters, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "The Eight Hundred" and "Bad Boys for Life," which will hit Chinese theaters on Aug. 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros., Huayi Brothers Media and Sony Pictures)

Cinemas in many Chinese cities will be able to operate at 50% capacity as blockbusters hit the Chinese film market this weekend.

Since the reopening of Chinese cinemas on July 20, cinemas have been operating at 30% capacity, with a 120-minute running time per screening and strict COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control measures.

Starting this weekend, the restriction will further loosen to encourage cinemas to embrace bigger blockbusters and a more significant boost, a new circular from China's film authorities says.

Besides operating at 50% capacity, there will be no half-time interlude for films that run more than 120 minutes, and the audience will be able to buy snacks and beverages at cinemas after screenings and take it home to enjoy.

By Aug. 11, more than 70% of Chinese cinemas resumed operation. However, the restrictions caused many cinemas to suffer significant losses every day even though they were operating. Now, things will be a lot better for cinemas with further relaxed restrictions; at the same time, phenomenal blockbusters will hit screens this weekend and benefit from the new rules.

The much-anticipated Chinese war epic, "The Eight Hundred," will start large-scale advanced screenings this Friday before its official launch on Aug. 21. Warner Bros. will re-release "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in a 3D and 4K high-definition version on Aug. 14, which will inflame nostalgic revisits. Sony Pictures' "Bad Boys for Life" will hit big screens on the same day. Currently, "Bad Boys for Life" is the highest-grossing film worldwide for 2020, as it has already grossed $419 million worldwide following its release in the United States and other markets in early January.

These three blockbusters are more than 120 minutes each and are highly anticipated by audiences.

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism also changed the attendance limit at theater-like venues in low-risk areas from 30% to 50%. But it still insists that theaters should thoroughly disinfect public areas before and after each performance and prepare sufficient protective equipment, including masks and disposable gloves, according to the guideline.

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