The threat of the new coronavirus is causing changes to the day to day lives of people all over the world. As of March 17th, AMC Theatres temporarily shut down over COVID-19 concerns due to the rapid increase of positive diagnosis in the United States. However, things were looking up in China as movie theaters were starting to re-open in the country over the last two weeks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that decision has already been revoked. As of now, China has decided to shut down all of its theaters once again.
"Over the past two weeks, hundreds of movie theaters in the country had begun to reopen. No reason for the policy reversal was given, but insiders believe the government is worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections," THR reports. "Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing's Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown."
"This second closure will not be a one or two-week issue," an executive at a major exhibition company told The Hollywood Reporter (the site reports that the source asked to not be named due to the "sensitivity" of talking about on government policy related to COVID-19). "They are going to be even more cautious when they attempt to reopen again — and this will set us back a long time," the executive added.
"We're not allowed to go online with our films and we can't go to cinemas because they are again closed, so it's like there is no exit," added an executive at one of China's top distribution companies. "They have to present a new policy and let us release some of our movies online, otherwise many of our film companies are going to go out of business."
This news comes as a surprise as China had only recently announced plans to re-open the theaters, and even teased that some Hollywood films could be coming to Chinese theaters, such as Green Book and A Dog's Purpose while Warner Bros. announced that they would be releasing a 4K version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on its Chinese social media, though there had been no official date for any of those releases.
The spread of the COVID-19 has caused wide-scale disruption across the entertainment industry. Many television shows have halted production. Tons of theatrical releases have been pushed back. Disney parks have shut down. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson both tested positive for COVID-19. Idris Elba also revealed he tested positive for the virus. Warner Bros. canceled the premiere of Superman: Red Son. The Game Developers Conference canceled its 2020 event after a series of company pullouts. London Book Fair was canceled. This year's SXSW was also canceled.
For those who are worried about the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC offers a litany of tips, including covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding large gatherings or close contact with people who are sick, and washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.