Films extend their theatrical run amid epidemic

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 18, 2022
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The Chinese film market is suffering a massive blow from the COVID-19 resurgence. As a result, several films will extend their theatrical runs to make up for the lack of new content and allow more people to see them once they emerge from lockdown.

Posters of four foreign films announcing they have extended their runs in the Chinese film market. [Images provided to]

Sony Pictures' two films - "Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania" and "Uncharted" - will be extended until June 2 and May 12. "Hotel Transylvania 4" was released in China on April 3, grossing more than 50.69 million yuan by Sunday. "Uncharted" was released on March 14, taking in 113 million yuan.

As the first superhero flick to hit China in more than a year, "The Batman" from Warner Bros. Pictures was much anticipated, but the release coincided with the resurgence of the epidemic. Nevertheless, it grossed more than 143 million and will extend its run until May 17.

Another sci-fi disaster film, "Moonfall," partially funded and distributed in China by Huayi Brothers Media, which hit Chinese screens on March 25, will extend its run until May 24. It so far has raked in more than 129 million yuan.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" from Warner Bros, currently at the top of box office charts, and "Escape Room: Tournament of Champions" from Sony, presently second, have not announced extended runs.

Typically, films only have a one-month theatrical run in China's cinemas. But distributors can apply for extending if there are special occasions and good reasons.

The new epidemic wave has closed down more than half of all Chinese cinemas. Only 5,494 cinemas remain open, accounting for 45.65% of China's cinemas. Meanwhile, the total daily gross of films in theaters has been kept very low. For example, all movies still being screened in China generated less than 7 million yuan on April 14.

Notably, all cinemas are still closed in Shanghai, the super metropolis and a significant contributor to China's box office total. So audiences in Shanghai haven't had a chance to see any of the above films. 

In April, foreign releases will continue to fill the market, including France's "Love at Second Sight" (2019) on April 14, India's "Drishyam" (2015) on April 15, and two new Hollywood films, "Ambulance" by Michael Bay and "The Bad Guys" by Pierre Perifel on April 22 and April 29, respectively. 

Recently, Universal Pictures stated "Jurassic World: Dominion" would be imported into China, with no date set. Additionally, Paramount Pictures announced "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" will also release in China but offered no date.

With foreign releases dominating the current Chinese market, domestic movies are silent on their moves, except for several small or middle-sized projects. However, the crime thriller "Man on the Edge" opened on Friday and is the only Chinese film with some market potential thanks to the star power of several local Hong Kong stars like Richie Jen, Simon Yam, and Alex Fong. But, audiences have to wait until the end of the month to see the Chinese romantic film "Stay with Me," legal drama "The Procurator," and two comedies "Post Truth" and "Give Me Five," on April 29 and 30. 

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