Mexican outbreak could hamper release

MEXICO CITY — A superhero is among the casualties of the deadly outbreak of swine influenza in Mexico City — the epicenter of the potential flu pandemic.

Twentieth Century Fox on Monday postponed Thursday’s opening of “X-Men Origin: Wolverine” because most of the capital’s theaters are likely to be closed.

A studio spokesman said a new launch date would be announced once Fox gets a better sense of when theaters will reopen.

Scores of screens owned by exhibitors Cinepolis, Cinemex, Cinemas Lumiere and Cinemark have gone dark, and the remaining chains and indies are expected to follow suit. Cinepolis is also shutting theaters in the states of Mexico and San Luis Potosi.

Cinemark and Cinemas Lumiere sites are closed until further notice, while others hope to reopen later this week depending on the situation.

The theaters are responding to a request from Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who has also asked that other public places, such as bars and restaurants, close in an attempt to contain the outbreak that had claimed 150 lives by Monday. Schools and public transport have already shuttered.

Lemon Films co-prexy Fernando Rovzar expressed relief at having just wrapped shooting for Kuno Becker vehicle “La ultima muerte” last week.

“Films in theaters, whether they are in their first or 10th week, are suffering, and with them the distribution companies,” he said.

Spanish-language media titan Televisa is forging on with telenovela production but banning live audiences from shows that usually feature them. It is also allowing staff members to take leave to watch kids, who are staying home from school until at least May 6.

That said, sources at the conglom said execs are listening to government recommendations, and policies could shift day to day.

This wait-and-see attitude has gripped the capital of some 20 million people where the traffic on the normally congested streets has been cut by half, public places are no longer crowded, and many of those who venture out are wearing face masks.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more