A portion of Chinese cinemas have been ordered to program an intermission for films that exceed two hours as a coronavirus prevention measure, Chinese reports said Friday.
The requirement will affect a number of upcoming Hollywood films that run over 120 minutes, including a re-run of Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” set to hit screens on Sunday, as well as “Ford V Ferrari,” which will Aug. 7 and a 4K restoration of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” that will hit Aug. 14.
If not lifted in the next few weeks, the policy could also potentially impact the China debut of “Tenet” in parts of the country. Nolan’s latest blockbuster has not yet set an official release date for the territory, but is expected to hit in late August.
The policy does not apply to all cinemas nationwide; it will be enforced according to requirements of local authorities in each region. There is currently no such requirement issued for Beijing, for instance.
There is not yet official clarity as to how long the break should be and whether facilities must be disinfected again during that time frame. However, a screenshot of a directive circulating amongst industry professionals on social media said that for “Interstellar,” cinemas were to pause an hour and 29 minutes into the film for five minutes. It noted that IMAX with Laser cinemas would be unable to do so.
After six months of closures, Chinese cinemas finally reopened again in regions deemed at low risk for COVID-19 on July 20. They are now heading into their second weekend back in business, which will see the premiere of “Sonic the Hedgehog” as well as Oscar winner “Jojo Rabbit,” among others.
Chinese authorities issued guidelines for reopening cinemas on July 16 that stipulated they must reduce seating to 30% of their max capacity, reduce the number of screenings to half of their typical program, and prohibit the sale or consumption of concessions. As of last Sunday, less than half of Chinese cinemas were back in operation, grossing just $12.6 million in their opening weekend.