0638 GMT February 25, 2020
The country's leading cinema chains — including Wanda, CGV, Bona, Lumiere Pavilions, Jinyi, Dadi and others — publicly announced that they would be temporarily shutting down in response to the coronavirus epidemic that has infected hundreds and gripped the nation, The Hollywood Reporter said.
China's leading films studios canceled their plans to release their biggest movies of the year during the kickoff to the Lunar New Year holiday on Friday and Saturday. With no new product to offer and public health on the minds of millions, theaters had little choice but to shut up shop.
Chinese New Year is the biggest blockbuster period in the world by far, and the coming week had been projected to generate as much as $1 billion in ticket sales revenue. But as the coronavirus outbreak worsened throughout the week, medical experts began warning the public against congregating in crowded places.
There is talk in the industry that the Lunar New Year slate might be rescheduled for later in the holiday — perhaps in three to four days — if public health conditions improve. But with the number of confirmed cases of the virus continuing to surge, optimism remains scarce.
As of Friday, more than 800 people had been infected by the virus globally, and 26 had died by it in China. Eight Chinese cities near the center of the outbreak — home to tens of millions — have been put on lockdown.
Among the big-budget movies that had been set for release on Saturday were Wanda's comedy action sequel ‘Detective Chinatown 3’, Huanxi Media's comedy tent pole ‘Lost in Russia’ and sports epic ‘Leap’, Jackie Chan's ‘Vanguard’, Dante Lam's action flick ‘The Rescue’ and family animation ‘Boonie Bears: The Wild Life’, among several others (local regulators have always blocked Hollywood films from releasing during the festival period, giving local studios an uncontested run at the box office).