After months of fluctuating quarantine procedures, 500 movie theaters across China planned to reopen their doors in an effort to stimulate a box office that lost the most important sales week of the year when Covid-19 shuttered businesses during China’s Spring Festival holiday.
The plan, of course, was to observe social distancing:
But that plan is no more. The country’s national film bureau has stated that all venues must now be re-closed, with no immediate timeline to open again. The decision comes as China bars entry of foreign nationals in an effort to curb the spike of imported cases, as overseas Chinese citizens return from heavily affected countries in droves.
The Shanghai Film Distribution and Projection Association had originally issued strict guidelines for both cinema employees and visitors to follow: temperature checks, mandatory mask-wearing, plus cinema-specifics such as “crossed” (交叉售票) and “sectioned” (隔排售票) ticketing, as explained by the images above, in keeping with guidelines on social distancing.
All 205 cinemas in the city were expected to implement an interval of at least 20 minutes between screenings to ensure full theater disinfection.
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International favorites and Chinese hits alike were poised for re-release — Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, American Dreams in China, Wolf Totem, Wolf Warrior II, Wandering Earth, and Capharnaum were all on their way to theaters before the sudden reversal.
Online reactions to the reopening of cinema doors were mixed. Some movie-lovers were ready to get back to normal life, but many appeared set to wait longer in light of the ongoing pandemic. China’s stringent cinema safety measures, which never saw fruition, might still provide a roadmap for movie theaters in countries with high rates of infection to reopen in the future.
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