This market insight provides an update on the impact of COVID-19 on the global cinema business (as at 08/4/20); discusses closures, box office revenue loss, as well as distribution.

According to our tracker of cinema closures, 96 % of the screens we are tracking (75 markets) are now closed for the foreseeable future.

Our data on 12 key countries shows an estimated $3.5bn loss of BO in the first quarter of the year, (these countries account for over 70% of global BO). The hardest hit country is China, which was 88% down on the first quarter 2019.

UK and international exhibitor Cineworld has suspended payment of a fourth quarter and future 2020 dividend to shareholders, as well as directors also deferring salaries and bonuses (fees in the case of non-executive directors).

WarnerMedia parent AT&T has taken out a loan for $5.5bn, while also assuring that it is financially sound.

A survey undertaken by the UK trade body Women in Film & TV UK shows that of the members that replied, 96% of them had no income coming in due to projects being cancelled, paused and postponed. Of these members, 39% had lost their jobs completely while the remainder had not lost the job but had lost the income coming in from their now ‘on hold’ projects.

On the distribution side, Disney’s Artemis Fowl is no longer being released first into cinemas on May 29th, 2020 but will debut on the company’s new Disney+ platform. Disney suggests this may happen to a few titles but majority will wait for theatrical release. The move to Disney+ contrasts with the majority of new releases from all studios whose theatrical releases are being delayed but will still happen before other moving onto other release windows.

Universal has moved action Thriller Nobody from its August 14 2020 slot to 26th February 2021, which was taken by an untitled project from M Night Shamalayan. The latter is now undated and has yet to shoot.

In South Korea, two of the leading exhibitors (CJ CGV and Lotte) have refused to screen Universal’s Trolls World Tour when it releases on 29 April 2020, as the title is debuting on digital platforms at the same time as cinemas as a response to COVID-19. A third exhibitor Megabox is to release the title on its screens.

Denmark’s government has suggested that it will begin to relax lockdown measures after Easter (a gradual, quiet and controlled re-opening), although there were few details. The border will remain closed to stop any infections coming in from outside the country. Norway has also announced some easing of measures (opening of hairdressers from 20 April, for example).  Czech Republic has also lifted some enforced closures as from this week, although not far-reaching, and also some easing of movement restrictions to see family or medical reasons.

Austrian government has released its plan for re-opening the country. Some small shops may open from 14 April 2020, as well as DIY and garden centres, but social distancing measures will stay in place. If that goes well, other slightly riskier businesses such as hairdressers and shopping centres would be opened two weeks after that, with strict limits on numbers allowed. Restaurants and cafes would be considered from mid-May (along with schools and hotels), and it is possible that this category could include cinemas which haven’t been explicitly mentioned. Public events would not be considered until June.