Cinema Closures: Hong Kong Orders Shutdown; Japanese, Korean Chains Also Closing

Movies

Some of the last holdouts in Asia are joining the raft of global markets to see cinema closures, even as the picture in China was beginning to look brighter, before taking a turn today.

At this point, all major international box office markets (along with domestic) are essentially closed. Even in places where turnstiles are still not blocked, “It’s just notional,” a source tells us, adding, “there is no business, period.”

Hong Kong today ordered a two-week closure of cinemas and other public venues that typically attract large amounts of people. The moves come as Hong Kong saw a surge in coronavirus cases on Friday.

In Korea, major exhibitor CGV is shutting about 30% of its theaters beginning Saturday. According to the Yonhap news agency, 35 of 116 CGV cinemas nationwide will close while those remaining open will screen films three times a day. The chain is reportedly considering further closures. CGV is part of CJ Entertainment, a backer of this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite.

Although theaters had been in operation throughout the past few months as the coronavirus situation evolves, moviegoing has been greatly impacted in the world’s 5th largest box office market. Per Yonghap, the daily number of tickets sold this past Monday in Korea was an all-time low of 25K.

Another Korean chain, Megabox, will shutter 10 cinemas from April. An official from Lotte told Yonhap closures are also being considered there. The local government has urged people to self-isolate amid a rise in imported COVID-19 cases.

And, in Japan, Toho Cinemas is closing venues in Tokyo and Kanagawa this weekend, with limited screenings planned for the days following. Shochiku is taking similar measures.

This too comes amid a request for self-isolation in Tokyo. The Japan Times reports Governor Yuriko Koike said today, “The city is on the verge of the point at which we might still be able to prevent an explosive rise in coronavirus cases.”

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