China’s massive box office began to reopen on Monday after the coronavirus pandemic spurred a shutdown lasting roughly six months.
The China Film Administration announced late last week that movie theaters in “low-risk” areas could reopen from Monday with a few precautions. Audience members are required to wear masks and take temperature checks, and cinemas are expected to operate at 30% capacity. Eating and drinking in the theater is also prohibited.
The “low-risk” requirement effectively means that most of the country should be able to reopen cinemas, according to the Global Times, a state-run tabloid.
Ticket sales for Monday’s box office surpassed 2.8 million yuan ($400,000) just before 5 pm local time, according to Maoyan, a major Chinese ticketing platform.
The Chinese film “A First Farewell,” about a boy from Xinjiang, along with the 2017 Pixar film “Coco” and the Chinese thriller “Sheep Without A Shepherd” grossed the most in pre-sales, according to the Global Times.
China is home to a huge movie industry that generated more than $9 billion in box office sales last year — second only to the United States.
Movie theaters around the country closed in January as the coronavirus spread rapidly through China. That meant the box office industry missed out on sales from the Lunar New Year, a season that is typically a boon for cinemas and studios since many residents watch movies during the long holiday.
Many Chinese social media users celebrated the re-opening Monday.
“Cinema, i am coming!” wrote one Weibo user who added that they “understand and support prevention and control measures.” Another user said that they would feel “satisfied” watching a movie, even if they could not eat or drink during the screening.