As a movie and entertainment website we have been interested, and concerned, in the impact of COVID19 on the industry as a whole. One area we have written extensively about is the impact on theatres. They were hit immediately by the pandemic and will be among the slowest to recover.

While it is essential to treat any Chinese figures relating to the pandemic with scepticism, one area where we can get clues as to what awaits us is by looking at the business impacts out there. It is in this exhibitor sector that troubling news is emerging.

Dark Horizons is reporting on The South China Morning Post publishing data from the The China Film Association. This points to a 40% reduction in the number of movie theatres in China as a direct result of the prolonged COVID19 closures.

According to this data China had 69,800 cinema screens based in 12,400 establishments. 40% means nearly 28,000 screens gone and 5,000 theatres or multiplexes going pop.

Cinemas in China have been closed for five months and are only just about to start a slow, phased reopening. However Chinese cities are not still completely out of lockdown, with rolling restrictions in place as clusters of Coronavirus are detected and they rush to contain these flaring up mini-outbreaks.

The report also mentions that it will take six months to return to normal revenue levels even if theatres are opened tomorrow. If that opening is delayed to October then the revenue drop is 91% and the entire sector is in danger.

Thanks China! For US theatres the outlook could well be worse as home entertainment options have flourished under lockdown.