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The Coronavirus Outbreak Costing The Film Industry Billions


Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

The film industry had been in a great place as in 2019 the international box office brought in an all time high $31.1 billion for a worldwide total of $42.5 billion. Unfortunately that momentum will not be able to carry on through 2020. The good feelings of the global film industry have been replaced with fear and anxiety because of the COVID-19 or coronavirus. As of late Monday coronavirus has infected about 90,000 people and taken the life of over 3,000 worldwide. The most of the deaths have come from China, which is also where the virus first showed up. But now new cases are being discovered all around the world.

So how has this affected the film industry? Let’s first talk about China as it’s the second largest territory in terms of box office. There about 70,000 movie theaters remain closed because of the outbreak. This situation has had a huge impact on box office sales. During the traditional Chinese New Year holiday period, which runs from January 24th through February 23rd, they made $4.2 million in box office sales. That is peanuts compared to the $1.76 billion that they made during the same time period last year. The Hollywood Reporter is estimating that the losses could add up to $2 billion. What makes things worse is that there is currently no time frame for when theaters will re-open.

Meanwhile in South Korea, the worlds fifth largest market was down a terrible 80 percent from last year. Despite that Universal and Blumhouse horror picture The Invisible Man, brought in $1.1 million last weekend. During February revenue in South Korea fell about 70 percent. Many theaters in that country are either closing or playing limited screenings. They have also rescheduled or delayed indefinitely several films, like Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite which was going to release a black and white version of the film. Like in China it’s unknown how long they will keep theaters closed.


Italy has reached over 2,000 cases of coronavirus and over 50 deaths. Due to this about half of the countries’ theaters are said to be shut down. Revenue fell 44 percent in the first weekend since the closures. Total receipts this past weekend were down 76 percent compared to the same time in 2019.

As cases of coronavirus continue to grow, Hollywood has no choice but to reschedule or postpone indefinitely several films. Films like Disney’s Mulan, Onward and MGM/Universals James Bond film No Time to Die will be affected. Even when they do decide to re-open theaters, China for example faces the daunting task of trying to fit in a lot of films in limited slots. Films like Fast and the Furious 9 could take a big hit it the theaters are still closed. The last Fast and Furious film brought in $392.8 million from China alone. How will it do without that market?

Overall, some analyst believe that this virus has resulted in a loss of at least $5 billion. More important than the film industry, I hope that countries are able to get a hold of this outbreak and get everyone back to a sense of normal. Films have always served as an escape and for now many around the world don’t have the ability to go to theaters due to their concerns. I hope that everyone out there is staying safe and maintaining good hygiene to reduce the possibility of spreading or getting the virus.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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