China’s national film administration says that Chinese authorities are actively doing the preparatory work needed to re-open cinemas soon, local reports said Friday.
The Securities Times cited a notice from the National Film Administration as saying that the relevant government departments are in the midst of organizing film selections, making hard drives of films to send out, and preparing DCP keys and release schedules in order to re-open cinemas soon.
Release dates must be coordinated nationwide, it noted, without clarifying if cinemas themselves will also be reopening all at once or in a more piecemeal fashion, in accordance with local coronavirus circumstances.
“Interstellar” is likely one of the Hollywood titles to hit cinemas in the early days of re-opening. The official Weibo account of CJ 4DPlex Beijing — the firm behind 4DX, a 4D augmented reality film format developed by a subsidiary of the major South Korean cinema chain CJ CGV — posted Friday that “a 4DX version of ‘Interstellar’ will be re-screened in all major cinemas,” but later in the day deleted the statement.
Authorities are looking for VFX-heavy blockbusters with wide appeal, since when cinemas briefly re-opened earlier in the year, hardly any consumers bought tickets to re-screenings of a smattering of local titles.
Chinese cinemas were ordered shut due to coronavirus in late January. Analysts estimate that more than 2,000 cinemas shut permanently in the first two months of closures alone, and that thousands more may soon follow.
China’s top administrative body, its State Council, said on May 8 that indoor entertainment venues like cinemas and theaters could re-open with appropriate public health measures in place. Cinemas were expected to re-open at some point after China’s important Two Sessions political meeting, which concluded May 28, but they still have not done so.
They are awaiting a formal green light from more local-level authorities, as well as a line-up of actual films to show, now that DCP keys from earlier in the year have gone defunct.