A survey has been published in China that offers some insight into how moviegoers might react once the coronavirus pandemic begins to abate.
According to the findings, which come from Maoyan Entertainment, the entertainment company that runs a ticketing platform and box office service in China, 68% of respondents cited going to the cinemas as their top choice for entertainment once the epidemic ends, behind only eating out with friends (69%).
A total of 30% of respondents said they would return to cinemas as soon as they reopen, while a slightly higher figure of 33% said they would wait for the official announcement that COVID-19 has been completely contained before returning. A further 29% said they would “wait for a while” after the official announcement before heading back to movie theaters.
That means 62% are suggesting they won’t return to cinemas right away. A further 8% said they would wait to see how others react.
If those stats are representative, it presents further challenges for cinema owners who have already been beleaguered by the spread of the virus. Venues around the world are shuttered, including the U.S. and UK which have both seen the vast majority of theaters close this week.
Fears of lost revenue during the containment period are being exasperated by the concern that, once cinemas do reopen, there may still be a nervousness around the lingering virus and reticence to return to public entertainment spaces, meaning the tail of the impact could be long.
There will be no shortage of product, with many blockbusters pausing their releases until later in the calendar, though some of those titles, such as Universal’s Fast & Furious entry F9, are delaying an entire year so exhibitors will have to wait a while to see the benefits from those.
China is of course ahead of the curve here, having suffered the coronavirus outbreak much earlier than most nations around the world. Cinemas closed in the country on January 24, and have remained so since, though there were reports in Chinese press in the last few days that venues may tentatively begin reopening this week.