Pandemic brings huge losses, opportunities to film industry
By Li Qiong

Since January 24, movie theaters across China have been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. To the owners and staff, it's been unexpectedly hard.

"As the infection risk decreased in China, many industries resumed operation in April. Cinemas were also making full preparations. However, as new cases emerged, reopening becomes impossible again," said Dai Yuzhu, manager of Cinema UME in Beijing.

Dai said the direct economic losses of his cinema alone have reached 30 million yuan (4.2 million U.S. dollars), while the national box office lost about 30 billion yuan (4.2 billion U.S. dollars) compared with the same period in 2019. Despite this, he's not giving up.

"During this period, we have provided professional training for the staff, and upgraded the equipment, aiming at more comfortable experiences for future moviegoers. We are also working on new business models to meet the challenge," Dai said.

An empty cinema. /VCG

An empty cinema. /VCG

Speaking of developing new business models, some have taken the lead. When many animation productions are facing difficulties, the Chinese animation studio Baozou is turning to a new direction – combining movies and games. Audiences are invited to decide how the movie plot is going to unveil.

"I'm in Chongqing shooting a motion capture for our next project, and adventure video game series," said Hao Yu, co-founder of Baozou Manhua.

"Adventure video game, or AVG, is a perfect combination of film making and gaming, where audience can enjoy a story by playing the leading characters, exploring a fantastic world we create, making choices that will change the ending and fighting monsters along the way."

Adventure video games can be played anywhere, alone or with others, and this strengthens Hao's belief in their production under the new norm of social distancing.

Scene of the film "Promised Land" by Baozou Manhua. /CGTN

Scene of the film "Promised Land" by Baozou Manhua. /CGTN

Some say if the hard times would lead to industrial innovations and more options for movie goers in the future, then that's one silver lining worth waiting for.