The coronavirus outbreak in China has become a huge story across the pond as well. Variety is now reporting that concern over disease mobility has caused some theaters to shut their doors. As the outbreak began in Wuhan, there was some mounting concern over the spread. But, now with 26 people dead due to the disease, authorities are taking every precaution to avoid more casualties. Over the weekend, 70,000 screens handled by at least three different theater chains stopped showing movies. Adding to the complications is the fact that this all comes during Chinese New Year, which is usually a huge time for the theater business in the country. China generates at least a billion dollars on average over the week, so this could have an effect on the global box office as well.
Seven films were scheduled to hit theaters on January 25th and they got canceled because of the closures. 13 different cities in the Hubei province have been locked down to limit the human-to-human transmission of the virus. 33 million people have been affected by these quarantines and the number of people confirmed to have come into contact with the virus has climbed to over 800. Chains affected by the theater closure include Wanda, Dadi, Emperor, CGV, Bona, and Lumiere Pavilions.
B. Riley financial analyst Eric Wold told Variety, “While there is always the chance that this is a short-term reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, and these theaters could re-open shortly should conditions improve in the country, we would not be surprised if these closures were more lengthy, to err on the safer side.”
The Guangdong authority also provided a statement, “According to the current requirements for the prevention of new-type coronavirus pneumonia in our province, theaters will be closed from now until the Spring Festival holiday. Each theater company should guide and urge its theaters to implement measures for refunds and suspension.”
Movie theaters in China have not been the only thing affected as now Disneyland in the country has closed as well. If the Happiest Place on Earth is closing, then it must be a grave matter. Authorities have been working very hard to get the outbreak under control before it spreads any further. Travel concerns from the region have also sprung up in the wake of the sickness being carried from person to person. Scary times on the ground and hopefully people can return to their favorite entertainment pursuits soon.
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