The figure comes from a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence and OPUSData, which shows just $528 million of box office revenue in the world’s largest theatrical region over the January to March period.
Cinemas around Asia reacted differently and at different times according to local and national regulations.
China’s cinemas were closed by government order in late January and, with an insignificant number of exceptions, have not been reopened since. South Korean operators closed large numbers of cinemas in response to tumbling demand. In Japan a state of emergency was not declared until mid-April, and even then local authorities could not compel cinemas to close their doors – though most did. Even without mandatory closures, Japan’s box office fell by 46% to $190 million in the first quarter.
South Korea saw revenues down by 65% to $140 million, according to the S&P data. Separate ticket sales figures from the Korean Film Council show admissions falling from 16.8 million in January to 7.37 million in February and 1.83 million in March. Its figures for April, show ticket sales of 972,000, which compared with 13.3 million in April last year.
Australia’s box office fell by 32% to $110 million in the first quarter of 2020. January stood at $69.2 million, but March tumbled to $3.77 million.
Asia-Pacific is home to the five of the top ten cinema markets outside North America. According to data from the MPAA, China, Japan and South Korea were the three biggest international territories in 2019. India ranked sixth, and Australia tenth.