How Movie Theaters in China are Adapting to the Pandemic

How Movie Theaters in China are Adapting to the Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the global film industry is severely impacted as many movie theaters are forced to stop operations. In these unprecedented times, theaters are struggling to stay afloat and many employees are at the risk of losing their jobs. Attempting to find new sources of revenue, some theaters in China are coming up with creative ideas to offset their expenses.

According to a survey released by China Film Association, if movie theaters cannot be reopened in the short term, there will be heavy financial losses. This year, box office earnings are projected to be at 6 billion Chinese yuan, a decrease of 91 percent from 2019 due to the pandemic. With theaters closed since February, many are struggling to survive under the mounting costs.

Theaters Adapt Their Business

There is currently no set date of when movie theaters can reopen in China, and many owners are forced to adjust to the challenging reality. Many employees remember thinking that the closure would only be temporary and initially adapted by offering promotions and selling packaged deals. As the pandemic worsened, many theaters began selling snacks and drinks to get rid of inventories with an expiration date. While these business changes generated some income for the theaters, it could barely cover their operating costs.

Many theaters cannot be sustained solely by selling popcorn, snacks, drinks and merchandise, and they had to resort to unconventional ideas to find income. Some theaters repurposed their buildings to wedding photography studios to attract movie fans who would rent the place for photo shoots.

In another theater in Hubei, China, the owners set up outdoor food stalls to attract fans. The food stalls are doing well and receive nearly 5,000 orders per day. Seeing how the food stalls are contributing to the theater’s bottom line, the owner is even seen selling grilled squid.

For many employees who lost their jobs, many have been forced to change their careers. Some have pursued careers in the insurance industry, and others have started their own online businesses using their knowledge of the film industry. One creative entrepreneur is piggybacking on themes from popular movies to sell fruits and merchandise.

Although some theaters found ways to adapt, the number of struggling locations that may never reopen will increase as reopening continues to be delayed. Theaters are looking forward to the day when operations can safely resume.

Source: HK01


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