70,000 Screens Go Dark -- China Closes Every Single Movie Theater in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The size and scope of the Chinese reaction to the viral spread is mounting.

To picture the breadth of steps being taken in China to address an outbreak of a viral scourge imagine every single movie theater in the United States and Canada shutting down at the same time. Now double that. It gets you close to understanding the undertaking on the Chinese mainland to deal with the growing problem of the coronavirus.

Up to three dozen deaths have been attributed to the outbreak in China, with the number of infected now reaching close to one thousand. Other countries are reporting a smattering of cases, mainly from travelers who have left the central China city of Wuhan, when the outbreak originated. A second case in the United States has just been reported, in the city of Chicago.

In an effort to stem the spread Chi-Com authorities are working on desperate measures to contain the outbreak. The city of Wuhan had been blockaded from any travel in or out, as the outbreak originated from a large fish and food marketplace in the city with 11 million residents. More locations have also become similarly sealed off. As of now, eight Chinese cities are under quarantine conditions

Another effort involves the closing of popular entertainment destinations. Disney World in Shanghai is closing as a health precaution, and the impact on the busiest travel day within China will be monumental. The Chinese government is also shutting down every single movie theater in the country. This entails seeing 70,000 movie screens (many outlets have reported that as the number of ‘’theaters’’, which is inaccurate) going dark this weekend, the intent meaant to limit the gathering of crowds.

This is no light decision arrived at by authorities and the theater chains, which are governed by the Chi-Coms. For a perspective of the scope of this move, the Chinese film market is nearly double that of North America. Since this weekend marks the celebration of the Chinese New Year it means the loss of revenues from the biggest movie business period in the world. With the Chinese studios poised to release their biggest films of the year for this segment it is estimated that approximately $1 billion in revenues will be lost as a result of this preventative action.

The sheer size of the efforts and the timing with such an economically vital time frame indicates just how serious the Chi-Coms are taking this health issue.

Brad Slager
Covering politics, as well as the business side of Show Business. Expert in fine bourbons, good cigars, competent hockey teams, and horrible movies.

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