This market insight provides an update on the impact of COVID-19 on the global cinema business (as at 21/4/20); discusses global box office losses, the first US re-opening date set in the state of Georgia, as well as distribution.

According to OMDIA’s box office tracker, an updated total of $4.0 billion box office was lost in 1Q 2020, based on results from 14 major territories (now includes Japan and Czech Republic), versus the same period in 2019. The steepest drop in China (-88.0%) helped wipe a significant $2bn from the world box office tally year on year. Japan (-63.6%), Korea (- 53.1%), Czech Republic (-33.0%) and France (-31.2%) rounded out the top five markets with the largest drops in percentage terms.

The US state of Georgia has become the first to announce it is opening up movie theatres, starting from 27th April 2020. The State Governor opened drive-ins last Saturday and has permitted cinemas to opened up as part of a three-phase plan as long as they apply the minimum basic operations. Along with cinemas, the Governor has also allowed private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services to recommence operating. Gyms and bowling alleys will open this Friday, April 24. Bars, nightclubs, amusement park rides and live performance venues will remain closed. 

However, despite this official permission to re-open, the likelihood is that most larger circuits are not ready to open, as staff have been furloughed or laid off, and health measures have not been fully worked out, not to mention what they could play on their screens as most titles have been shifted into the future (as our spreadsheet shows). Smaller operators may be better placed to re-open if they believe it is safe to do so. The Federal Government guidelines also need to be met before any site can open and the Governor says this will be the case.

The Slovak Republic has unveiled a plan for re-opening its economy. The first openings are from 22nd April 2020 and the final stage of the plan is scheduled for early June and foresees the reopening of most stores, including cinemas, as well as shopping malls and schools.

On the distribution side, Warner has rejigged its upcoming slate, with impacts on releases over two years into the future. The affected movies appear below.

The Batman (Was: 25 June 2021; Now: 1 October 2021)

The Flash (1 July 2022; 3 June 2022)

Shazam 2 (1 April 2022; 4 November 2022)

Elvis Untitled (1 October 2022; 5 November 2022)

The Many Saints of Newark (25 September 2020; 12 March 2021)

King Richard (25 November 2020; 19 November 2021)

Fred Hampton Untitled (21 August 2020; TBD)