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

As the spread of COVID-19 in China slows, there are signs that China is looking at re-opening cinemas in the country, maybe by the end of March. There are even a few in some regions that have re-opened already, with predictably low numbers attending. This will be a gradual process as people will need re-assurance that cinemas are a safe place to be. A survey by Maoyan showed that 68% of respondents said going to the cinema is their first choice for entertainment once COVID-19 ends.

However, 30% said they would return to cinemas as soon as they reopen, and a further 33% said they would wait for the official announcement that COVID-19 is completely contained. There will be strict measures in place when they do re-open including staggered seating and rows, and hygiene actions. There five films being lined up by distributor China Film that are being given for free to cinemas to help them recover.

Some rare good news from the USA, as drive-in theatres are experience a bounce in admissions as people look to get out of the house but maintain social distancing.

In the USA, NATO has asked for a package of measures from Congress, including loan guarantees for exhibitors, tax benefits for employees and funds to compensate for lost ticket sales and concessions.  

Some governments are beginning to go public on how they will help cinemas and other leisure industries. The details are sketchy but a round-up follows:

The Italian government is aiming to support to workers and businesses operating tourism and culture. The measures include an emergency fund for live performances, films and audio-visual works to the total tune of €130 million.

In the Netherlands, the government is promising to pay 90% of costs (with remainder paid by company) if that company doesn’t fire people. 

The Norwegian government is lowering VAT on cinemas to 4% as a response to this global crisis.

In Denmark, the government is offering to cover 80% of monthly expenses if income goes down by 80-100%.

In China, the authorities in the Guangdong Province has put aside around $7m for cinemas that have been impacted by the virus. 

In the capital Beijing, the cinema authorities have opened a funding stream to support cinemas, with each site able to access from £1,000 to £44,000.

On the distribution side, Universal has postponed the release of Minions 3, scheduled for July 3 2020, due to producer Illumination’s production shutdown, rather than distribution issues.