Box office halved following Friday's quake

Tokyo — Tokyo Electric Power will start rolling blackouts on Monday to compensate for the power shortfall caused by the failure of two nuclear plants in Japan following Friday’s earthquake — a further blow to the local biz.

The blackouts will extend to five areas in nine prefectures, including sections of Tokyo and surrounding suburbs where many multiplexes are sited. The length of the daily outages will range from three hours and 40 minutes to seven hours and 20 minutes total. The blackouts are expected to continue until the end of April, with possible resumption in the summer when power needs surge.

Theaters in the designated areas will be dark, dealing another blow to box office earnings already hit hard by the devastating 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

According to television reports, weekend theater attendance was down by one-half in Tokyo. Exact figures will not be available until Tuesday at the earliest.

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