The number of cinemas in China that are open has fallen below 60%, as “temporary” lockdowns related to the country’s Zero Covid policy continues to drag down the industry. As of 25 October there were 7,395 cinemas in operation, a decline of 109 from the day before. The operating rate was thus 59.70%, with 314,000 admissions, a decline of 16.86% from the same period the previous month. Box office stood at CNY 12.763 million (USD $1.76 million). This is the lowest level of cinema openings since mid-April, when less than 6,000 cinemas were in operation and cities such as Shanghai were in lockdown.
As a result of the closures and a lack of major tentpoles, whether local or Hollywood, box office in China fell to its lowest level since May of this year. In the week of 17-23 October the box office revenue for China was CNY 167 million (USD $23 million), representing a month-on-month decrease of 28.32% and setting a new low for a single-week box office since the end of May. It also highlights that the Chinese cinema sector is reliant on the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival period, as well as a few summer movies for their survival. Many of this year’s biggest Hollywood releases, including the Marvel films and “Top Gun Maverick” have not been granted permission to release in China.
During the two first years of the pandemic, China became the world’s biggest cinema market counted by box office – it had already been so by screen count for several years. But the ongoing Zero Covid police pursued by Xi Jinping, recently re-elected President for an unprecedented third five-year term, means that there is no likely end in sight for the on-off lockdowns.