The impact of COVID-19 on the global cinema business (as at 23/3/20)

The UK government ordered cinemas to close late on 20/3/20, even though most screens had already shut.

On Monday 23rd March, the Indonesian government shut all cinemas and other public entertainment for an initial two-week period.

The US Congress is today discussing measures to help the US cinema sector, among many others.

The French government has exceptionally agreed to waive the theatrical window (which is legally set and adhered to strictly) for all films that were in cinemas last week and on March 14th (date cinemas were ordered to close). These films will be allowed to go straight to VOD.

The South African government has so far announced general social distancing measures but as at 19th March leading cinema circuit Ster Kinekor has taken steps on social distancing measures (keep two seats between patrons and capped occupancy) and no movies are to be shown before 12h00 and after 18h00. Second largest circuit Nu Metro has introduced a one-metre apart rule and a capped occupancy of 100 visitors per screening. Both are deep cleaning the auditoriums.

On the 20th March, the Egyptian government ordered the closure of all cinema and theatres in the country as a response to the unfolding situation.

On 22 March, the Australian federal government ordered a total shutdown of all cinemas in the country, with effect from noon on Monday 23rd. Some chains had already closed their cinemas in response, and some were operating with reduced capacity levels (social distancing). In response to the closure, Studio Canal postponed the Australian release of The Secret Garden. It will be held back for a theatrical release, and not pushed straight to digital.

Vietnamese government shut down its cinemas, clubs, bars and other social and entertainment venues as at 17th March.

On 17th March, Cambodia ordered all cinemas, karaoke clubs and bars to close with no set end date to the action.

On the 20th March, all cinemas and other entertainment venues in Chile were ordered to close.

On the 15th March, all cinemas in Argentina were closed, along with theatre, music events and national parks.

Costa Rican government closed all its cinemas on 15th March, after social distancing measures had been tried and failed for a few days before that. Puerto Rico closed all cinema on the 16th March and Dominican Republic on the 17th March.

On the other side of the curve, around 500 cinemas have now re-opened in China across five provinces, albeit with low returns. Data showed that only $2,000 in box office was earned during the day throughout the country but this is something of a milestone.

On the distribution side, Paramount has already postponed the theatrical release of Sonic the Hedgehog in China although it has run in US cinemas since its Valentine’s Day release, earning just over $146m in the five weeks. The film will now be releasing early for purchase on digital formats, namely the 31st March.

In the UK, the trade bodies representing the creative industries were amongst those submitting a plan to help support freelance and flexible workers to the UK Chancellor, following rescue plans for employed workers and companies.

Netflix has halted all productions in USA and Canada, in common with several other major producers. The streaming company is setting up a $100m relief fund to support members of the creative community that have been laid off during this period.