While the cinema industry’s focus is on the upcoming Oscars and the world’s eyes are on the war in Ukraine, China is moving back into full lockdown region-by-region and city-by-city. Beijing’s “Zero Covid” policy means a clamp down on any cluster of outbreaks, even if it means putting a city of millions of people under de-facto house arrest. There is a fear that a spread of the latest Omicron variant could lead to mass hospitalisations and deaths.
Up to half of all cinemas in China have once again had to suspend operation. “This is the largest theater closure since the reopening of theater operations in July 2020,” a Chinese theatre official is quoted as saying. However, even before the latest sweeping lockdowns, Chinese cinemas were seeing declining business after the Spring Holiday, whose box office business failed to match that of last year. The arrival of Hollywood blockbusters have not helped the situation, with “Uncharted” and “The Batman” not managing to make up for the absence of major local tentpole titles.
It is hard to see how the situation will improve, with the whack-an-outbreak Zero Covid policy in place. There are signs that the Chinese leaders recognise that lockdowns will damage the larger economy long term, but there are no easy policy options; only half of China’s over-80 population has been double vaccinated So cinemas are likely to continue to suffer. This means that there is a very real likelihood that North America will retake the pole position as the world’s largest box-office territory 2022.
Far from celebrating the United States recapturing the box office crown, we should recognise that the closure of cinemas anywhere is bad for the global industry. Right now we also have next to no cinemas operating in Ukraine, exhibitors in Belarus and Central Asia are collateral casualties and the cinema business in Russia is less than half of what it was before the war. Ultimately the industry is judged by the overall global size and the latest event means that recovery is still very much a work-in-progress.
The Sound and Music of The Batman | Sound + Image Lab
Director Matt Reeves and his incredible team of sound and music artists: Michael Giacchino – Composer Will Files – Supervising Sound Editor Douglas Murray – Supervising Sound Editor Andy Nelson – Re-Recording Mixer to discuss The Batman.
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