CineAsia, the annual exhibition conference that was set for December 9-12 in Hong Kong, officially has been canceled due to “the escalation of violence” in the territory. Organizers sent an email to participants today informing them of the decision.
CineAsia is run by Film Expo Group, which also oversees such important events as CineEurope in Barcelona each summer and where Hollywood shows off its wares to local exhibitors for the months and years to come.
Hong Kong has been a hotbed of political unrest in recent months over China’s influence there. Protests began peacefully in June against extradition legislation. The bill since has been withdrawn, but protester demands expanded. One student died last week, and another was shot by police on Monday.
Film Expo’s Robert and Andrew Sunshine told Deadline: “Due to the escalating violence and ongoing anti-government protesting, we felt it was in the best interest of all concerned to cancel the convention. We could not provide safety for our guests and received many comments that companies were concerned about sending their employees to Hong Kong at this time.”
A Hollywood studio source told Deadline that, while it’s unfortunate that the event won’t take place, the decision to cancel is “a smart move.”
Along with the kibosh of CineAsia, a significant stop on the annual calendar, industry impact has been noted by a drop in market’s box office. The pro-democracy protests also have seen Disney in the mix when the star of its 2020 release, Mulan, voiced support of those allegedly violating human rights.
Controversy was also sparked between the NBA and China when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey voiced support for Hong Kong protesters.