Guangdong province, China’s top movie-going region, announced Monday that it will allocate nearly $7 million in funding to support more than 1,000 cinemas there slammed by forced closures due to coronavirus.
Though other local Chinese governments have acknowledged the need to step in and help the country’s suffering film industry, Guangdong is the first to issue a compensation plan with specific dollar amounts to support the battered exhibition sector.
Guangdong cinemas have been shut since Jan. 24. Last year, the region was China’s top-grossing province for the 18th consecutive year, making $1.28 billion (RMB8.95 billion) in box office receipts, or about 14% of China’s national box office revenue in 2019, according to data from the Guangdong Film Bureau.
The bureau announced Monday that it will issue $6.99 million (RMB48.9 million) to support 1,337 cinemas in Guangdong. It will issue them funds ranging from RMB10,000 to RMB310,000 ($1,430 to $44,300) in accordance with the proportion of box office earnings each brought in last year.
The plan is currently undergoing approvals, and funds will be allocated “as soon as possible,” it said.
On Monday, more than a half dozen local departments in Henan Province also jointly issued a list of 12 planned measures they are proposing to support the film industry.
Paying particular attention to small and mid-sized companies and new cinemas that opened within the past year, Henan authorities plan to give film and cinema companies discounted rates on loans, tax deferments, and a pass on employee benefits such as unemployment, work injury and social insurance, among other measures.
Movie companies that rent state-owned facilities will be exempt from paying rent and property fees in February and March, will only need to pay half of what they owe through to June, and will have their utilities running even if they’re unable to pay before summer.
Authorities urged companies to avoid layoffs by adjusting salaries and rotating work in shifts. They also said that special funds would be deployed to produce films about heroic responses to the pandemic.
In recent weeks, other local governments have issued proposed support plans of their own, with statements coming out of Beijing as well as Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, the latter being home to major production centers Hengdian World Studios and Xiangshan Film and TV City.
“Efforts will be made to transform these ten policies and measures into real, hard cash, which will help the film industry overcome difficulties and develop steadily,” wrote the Jiangsu authorities, without further explaining how or when.