Global Film Industry Suffers $5 Billion Loss Amid COVID-19 Scare

The coronavirus epidemic has heavily impacted the international box office. 

Published
Cinema
2 min read
Poster of <i>Parasite</i>; a still from <i>The Invisible Man</i>.
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In 2019, the international box office made a whopping $31.1 billion, contributing to a worldwide haul of $42.5 billion, likewise an all-time high. However, this reason to rejoice has quickly turned to anxiety for the global film industry because of coronavirus. Movie theatres have been shut in China for weeks, and the virus is beginning to impact moviegoing in South Korea, Italy and even Japan, the world's third-biggest film market, according to a report by hollywoodreporter.com

A few analysts have told the publication that COVID-19 could result in a loss of at least five billion dollars and the figures can go up if moviegoing reduces in other markets, including the US.

In China, around 70,000 movie theaters remain closed amid the outbreak. The report further cites that ticket sales during the Chinese New Year (24 January to 23 February) this year were a meagre $4.2 million as compared to $1.76 billion over the same stretch in 2019, figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway show.

During the weekend (29 February and 1 March), the box office revenue in South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest market, spiralled down 80 per cent year-over-year. The big budget film The Invisible Man debuted to a relatively tepid $1.1 million.

In February, revenue in South Korea slid nearly 70 per cent. An official at the Korea Film Commission told hollywoodreporter.com that the situation is worse than the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus epidemic in 2015.

With cinemas closing or reducing screenings, a number of local film releases have been rescheduled or indefinitely delayed in Korea.

A black-and-white version of Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite, scheduled to be released nationwide on 4 March, has been postponed.

The Italian box office has also suffered immensely. Roughly half of the country’s movie theatres are believed to have shut down. In Italy, all major US debuts planned for the 29th weekend were pulled down, including Invisible Man.

The releases of Onward, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Charlie’s Angels and The Grudge, among others, are still uncertain.

In other Asian countries like Japan, where over 275 confirmed coronavirus cases and six deaths have been recorded, fear and panic are at its peak. Japanese studio, distributor and theater operator Shochiku told thehollywoodreporter.com that it was currently considering whether to go ahead with various promotional events for films in light of the government advisory. The local studio giant also pulled its biggest upcoming release, anime franchise installment Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's New Dinosaur.

The release of Daniel Craig’s latest Bond film No Time to Die has also been pushed. The film, which was scheduled for a 2 April release in the UK followed by a release on 10 April worldwide, has now been postponed to November as concerns for public health have taken precedence. It will now release in the UK on 12 November and on 25 November in the US.

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