China’s film regulators have slammed the breaks on their plans to gradually reopen the country’s cinemas.
Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown.
No official explanation for the sudden reversal was provided. Industry insiders instantly began speculating that the government was worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections.
The decision comes as a shock given the signals authorities had been sending as recently as a day ago. On Thursday, Shanghai’s municipal government announced that 205 of the city’s movie theaters had received permission to resume business on Saturday. Earlier in the week, China Film Group, the dominant state-backed distributor, unveiled a plan to let cinemas rerelease past blockbusters to help lure customers back into seats. The scheme was to entail both local hits, such as Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, and Hollywood-made product, such as the full Avengers franchise and last year’s Oscar best picture winner, Green Book.
Now, that seems to have changed.