- Title: "It is a disaster" - Coronavirus takes toll on film industry
- Date: 9th March 2020
- Summary: CANNES, FRANCE (FILE - MAY 16, 2019) (REUTERS) ACTORS PENELOPE CRUZ AND ANTONIO BANDERAS RAISING A GLASS WITH DIRECTOR PEDRO ALMODOVAR AT A CANNES PARTY
- Keywords: box office cinemas closed coronavirus film industry movie business
- Reuters ID: LVA00CC4BZBM5
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BEIJING AND HONG KONG, CHINA / ROME, ITALY / LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / CANNES, FRANCE / VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BEIJING AND HONG KONG, CHINA / ROME, ITALY / LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / CANNES, FRANCE / VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- Country: Various
- Duration: 00:00:09
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Film
- Story Text: With cinemas across China, South Korea, Japan and Italy largely shut and restrictions on entertainment venues being put in place elsewhere, the coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on the global box office and the cinema industry on a whole is facing turmoil.
Disney and Pixar's "Onward" led the weekend box office, debuting in the U.S. to $40 million, trade magazine Variety reported. The film took in $28 million internationally, bringing in a global total of $68 million, Variety said.
The animated film, voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, ranks among Pixar's lowest opening weekends in modern times, Variety said. It was unclear whether coronavirus fears played a part in the movie's global debut. According to Screen Daily "Onwards" did not open in China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Australia, New Zealand or Turkey this weekend.
China's cinema industry has been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak as many theatres have been shut as part of precautionary measures taken by local authorities to curb the spread of the virus.
Box office revenues in China fell 80% over the first 8 weeks of the year, according to Morgan Stanley.
"I think for the global film industry it is a disaster, just like the airlines because in China all the cinemas are closed," Francis Lun, CEO of Hong Kong-based market watcher Geo Securities, said.
"They (cinemas) are not yet closed in Europe and America. But China is the number one theatre market in the world, the movie market in the world. It's stopped already," he said.
Shanghai Film Group is due to set up a 1 billion yuan ($143.94 million) fund with partners to help some Chinese cinemas cope with the impact of the outbreak, the China Securities Journal reported on Monday (March 9).
The company said its partners for the fund include its listed unit Shanghai Film Co and Shanghai Jingwen Investment. It also said that the funds will be mainly used to support movie theatres in the Yangtze Delta region.
Screen International Editor Matt Mueller said he expected the outbreak to impact smaller, highly leveraged and debt-laden film companies.
"If you're a major studio like Disney, you know, you clearly have the sort of, the resources and the depth to sort of ride out a situation like this," he said.
"It does put pressure on smaller companies for sure. And there could, I mean, for sure there could be redundancies, there could be even some closures if it lasts for a very long time," Mueller said.
Jimmy Wu, head of the cinema firm Lumiere Pavilion, which owns some 40 cinemas in China and employs around 3,000 people nationwide, said his company had already suffered heavy losses.
"We've suffered, so far, at least 400 million RMB, which is about 40 million euros. So, the whole industry suffered a lot. And we have no idea when we can resume the business," he said.
In Italy, which is facing Europe's most serious outbreak of the highly contagious virus, the government has ordered all cinemas to close.
The Italian box office has crashed to an all-time low, Variety reported on Monday.
But some markets remain unaffected, said Mueller.
"A lot of markets are still doing quite well. I mean, Russia, Germany, I mean, those markets aren't down," he said. "For instance, 'The Invisible Man' from Universal, I mean, that crossed a hundred million dollars this weekend. 'Sonic The Hedgehog' crossed a hundred and fifty million dollars for Paramount Pictures. People are going to the cinema still. And I think that's the hope for the industry, is that despite all the concerns and the sort of,
the panic around this, that basically people will still continue to go to the cinemas," he said.
More than 111,600 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 3,884 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
(Production: Hanna Rantala, Thomas Suen, Joyce Zhou, Shubing Wang, Will Russell, Cristiano Corvino)
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