EXCLUSIVE: Wasting no time as cinemas prepare to reopen beginning next week in most of China, a first batch of titles due for release has been identified. Universal’s Dolittle has been granted a July 24 date while we understand that Sony’s Bloodshot, handled locally by Bona Film, will also go out that same day. This would make them the first ‘new’ Hollywood titles to hit the market since movie theaters shuttered in January. Both were sidelined amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The following Friday, sources tell us that DreamWorks/Amblin/Universal’s lauded Sam Mendes war drama 1917 is slated to see the inside of Middle Kingdom theaters for the first time since it stormed awards season.
Further, as suspected, the initial roster of older titles to populate screens starting next week is made up of predominantly local blockbusters from the past few years — think Ne Zha, Wolf Warrior 2, The Mermaid — but also includes Coco, A Dog’s Purpose and 2019 Oscar nominee Capernaum.
As we reported yesterday, we understand that rather than a slow rollout, major circuits like Wanda are poised to open next week — save in Beijing and its immediate environs where cinemas will remain closed. We also hear that on the re-releases, distributors are waiving their rentals so exhibitors will receive 100% of the box office (that wouldn’t appear to apply to the new pics).
Movie theaters have been closed since January and box office in the world’s second largest market is expected to take a $4B or greater loss in 2020. It will be interesting to see figures roll in next week. Moviegoers are thought to be eager to return to cinemas in China, particularly for fresh titles. Currently, the global box office on Dolittle is $223.3M and on 1917 is $374.7M. Bloodshot, whose star Vin Diesel is a huge draw in China, has grossed just over $29M.
A backlog of other Hollywood titles, including such pics as Jojo Rabbit, Bad Boys For Life and Sonic The Hedgehog, is awaiting dates while it’s expected that some of the bigger local titles that were pushed out of Lunar New Year when the crisis began will be held back until there is more certainty surrounding the new cinema-going experience — and maybe even to celebrate National Day on October 1.
Some of the COVID-19 safety rulings released this week for the Middle Kingdom include no concessions being sold, temperature scans of all audience members, mandatory masks throughout the entire show — and no cinemas can book any movies with runtimes over two hours. Auditoriums must be under 30% capacity, with a meter distance between each visitor, among other precautions.
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