First cinema reopens in the Chinese mainland, but audiences are apprehensive
Deng Junfang
Original photo from VCG and redesigned by CGTN.

Original photo from VCG and redesigned by CGTN.

A movie theater from the China Film Group Corporation in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region reopened on Monday after being closed for 50 days. It is the first movie theater to return to business amid the coronavirus outbreak in the autonomous region and as well as in the Chinese mainland as a whole.

The "Jin Zong Lü" cinema didn't release any new film on the first day, but replayed eight old films, including the animation "The Frog Prince" and the previous blockbuster "My People, My Country." All animation films are free for the cinema's membership, while non-members need to pay 10 yuan (1.4 U.S. dollars) for a ticket, less than one-third of the original price.

However, it seems audiences were not prepared for a cinematic trip as the theater saw only a few moviegoers on the first day. "We had 10 movie sessions from 12 PM to 7 PM on Monday, but we haven't seen any people coming," an employee was quoted as saying by the "First Director," an influential We Media on film reviews in China.

By the end of Sunday, 76 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 had been reported in Xinjiang, which has not reported any new cases for 27 consecutive days. All the 90 cinemas in Xinjiang suspended business on January 25, the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year.

Several other cinemas in Xinjiang, including Mei Ah Cineplex and 103 Film Park, are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, reported the Xinjiang Morning Post.

More discounts and disinfection, but not enough public

Movie theater. /VCG

Movie theater. /VCG

Since Monday, many cinemas in Xinjiang started offering free tickets to medical staff involved in aiding the fight against COVID-19 in Hubei Province. The offer will last through until the rest of the year. 

For ordinary audiences, some cinemas offer bonuses, as five designated free films every day, or two boxes of popcorn with a ticket. 

Highly expected films like "Detective Chinatown 3," "Leap," and "Mulan" are expected to hit the cinemas later, but no clear release date has been announced yet.

Disinfection measures have also been strengthened, and staff and moviegoers are required to wear masks in cinemas.

China has made a great sacrifice containing the novel coronavirus, and those efforts are paying off as less and less confirmed cases have been reported inside the country. However, it will take a long time before people go back to cinemas without fear or hesitation, as a survey made by the digital magazine "Sir Film" shows.

Thousands of movie fans in 70 cities across the country participated in the survey, which shows that most of them have no plans to go to the cinema at the moment. The survey listed several reasons behind their reluctance and the interviewees could choose more than one option.

According to the data, around 90 percent of the interviewees thought the cinema would be crowded, so they didn't want to go. The second most popular answer is linked with the impact of the virus on common behaviors since they said they didn't dare to go out. This indicates that the consequences and impact in their lives and minds are still so fresh and significant that they remain apprehensive even after the lockdown was lifted. 

CGTN Infographic.

CGTN Infographic.