Outdoor film arose in the 1950s in China and waned from the 1990s forward and now due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Beijing plans to revive outdoor film to allow people to watch movies together, even with cinemas still being closed.
Dozens of people sat together and watched an open-air Romanian film when darkness fell on Monday, the first activity organized under the plan, coinciding with International Children's Day with the organizers selecting a children's themed film for the audience present.
Audiences also attended a salon that invited scholars and insiders to talk about the film. Through the discussion, they revealed their deeper feelings about this film.
Shi Wenxue, a teacher at Beijing Film Academy and also one of the organizers and initiators of the project, told the Global Times that the first activity of the plan to revive outdoor film gained positive feedback.
"The series of activities that had been planned from May will be held once a week and usually on weekends. We will choose films according to important dates or festivals such as International Children's Day, Father's Day and the Dragon Boat Festival in June," Shi said. "The themes of films will match these special days."
The venues for the open-air film is in hotels' terraces and most seats are sofas. Although the audio and visual effects of watching outdoor films cannot be compared with cinema viewings, audiences have a stronger sense of participation when watching films outdoor, Shi said.
Now some bars and restaurants offer outdoor films to customers but few people truly appreciate movies in this way. "Outdoor films with a sense of ceremony only appear in some film festivals such as the beach cinema of the Cannes Film Festival."
The popularity of outdoor and mobile screening films lasted from 1940s to the 1990s. Residents of rural areas gathered at the fields to watch movies during night breaks while urban residents watched at squares.
In addition to enriching people's entertainment, outdoor films also have the function of publicity and education, experts said.
In the 1990s when many families had televisions and cinemas began to rise in popularity, outdoor films gradually decreased, Shi introduced.
The plan to revive outdoor film is to retrieve a sense of romance and freedom when watching films. "The most comfortable time for outdoor films in Beijing is from May to October, so we want to explore a way to relieve stress on the film industry caused by the epidemic," Shi added.
China Film Administration estimated in April that due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the annual box office loss will exceed 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion), according to a report from Sina Finance.
Beijing will adjust the coronavirus emergency response level to its lowest and will lift restrictions on various sectors, including residential community management, outdoor activities, movement of people from outside the capital and tourism starting on Saturday. But cinemas have not been included in the lift list, China News Service reported.