State media CGTN reported that 486 theaters were open for business on Friday. On Monday, financial publication Caixin said the number had risen to 507, representing less than 5% of all cinemas in commercial operation prior to the virus outbreak.
If we look at the timeline, China closed theaters first, about 45 days ago, so if they are starting to reopen as the virus recedes, then we’re about 45 days out in the United States from seeing the same situation occur here.
Meanwhile, in Washington state where we reside, they just put a two-week order for people in non-essential businesses to stay at home. Both of our regular jobs are considered essential, so this will have no impact on us, but just thought I’d throw that out there.
45 days. It gets better. Theaters reopening anywhere sounds like life starting to return to normal.
The elephant in the world’s room at the moment is the coronavirus. The elephant in the theatrical world is the theatrical window.
Rather than delay indefinitely new movie releases, why not offer people in China the ability to stream movies at home (for a reasonable ticket price)?
I’ve been looking around for others suggesting this and it seems this idea is completely off the table. The more time that goes by that the theaters are closed, why can’t this be explored … at least temporarily?
Obviously, movies aren’t remotely important as protecting human lives, so our thoughts and prayers go out to anybody impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
We’re now going to see Hollywood getting hurt by China’s current theatrical shutdown, as the likes of Bad Boys For Life and Birds of Prey weren’t betting on a big Chinese payday. Even Dolittle was tracking for a $15 million debut when the coronavirus caused the theaters to shut down over what should have been a $1 billion-plus New Year’s weekend. Video game movies (Warcraft, Rampage, Ready Player One, etc.) have been big in China, and a continued blackout could be even more problematic for (much bigger-budgeted) Mulan and No Time to Die.
Collateral damage of a much lesser concern will be box office performance depending on the Chinese market where many theaters are currently shutdown, but there are other ways to release new movies — streaming — than on the big screen.
I don’t understand why streaming options won’t at least be considered, given if a lot more time goes on without a vaccine being available. Yes, I realize this movie industry protects the theatrical window from streaming for 90 days or so because they believe that once that is violated, the movie theater industry will crumble.
Streaming at Home vs. The Movie Theater Experience
I don’t think it’s quite that dramatic at this point for a few simple reasons:
Most people don’t have in-home theater quality TV and surround sound speaker setups
Most people don’t have a bunch of people to join them as they watch a movie on the big screen. There is a social element to watching movies in the theater that is difficult to view in a smaller room and/or alone
Popcorn. Sorry, microwave popcorn is not the same. Yes, you can emulate the movie theater popcorn setup affordably, but most people won’t and don’t have this available.
Date night outside the home. If you want to have date night at home, you can do that any night of the week, but it’s nice to leave home and do something fun with your spouse/significant other/friends away from your home.
Sure, all of these items except the last can be replicated with an in-home system and you don’t have to be Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. On top of that, you can invite only those who don’t interrupt the movies at home. You can also pause the movies, eat whatever food you want and show movies whenever you want. There are many advantages to watching movies at home versus the theater, but I don’t think enough people have movie theater quality rooms in their homes.
Funny aside: 20 years ago we added a movie room to our home. I wired the walls with high quality sound in preparation for the ultimate surround sound system. For a few years we had the system and I watched movies in there, but it never really felt like the movie theater. I didn’t go the extra mile for the movie theater popcorn, but came about as close as possible 20 years ago to having this room of dreams. I’ve been a cutting edge tech guy in the past.
So, if you have someone like me who could have a room like this and doesn’t prioritize it over a movie theater, my guess is there are many lesser-tech folks who would rather just go out to, for no better reason than, go out.
Re-releasing the New Releases in Theaters
Maybe some of these movies can be re-released in theaters. Again, this is all a lesser concern to finding a cure and making sure human beings wherever they are in the world are protected from harm from this virus.
Informative Articles about Coronavirus
Admittedly, this is going outside the scope of this blog, but a wise person stays informed. I’ve collected some articles to learn more about coronavirus:
How the Coronavirus likely started with a bat [VOX.com]: “The story of the novel coronavirus is the story of HIV, of SARS, of Ebola, and even the measles. These are all diseases that have been introduced to humans — with deadly effects — via animals. And as humans encroach more and more into animal habitats, it’s believed these spillover events may only grow more common.”
Let’s hope that a vaccine is created soon and this outbreak is thoroughly contained. Regardless if it’s happening in America or abroad, viruses that infect any human being anywhere are a concern that we all should agree upon working together to contain and eliminate.
I remember chuckling at what I believed to be a satirical portrayal of Bruce Lee in Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Lee family, particularly his daughter, Shannon didn’t appreciate the way her father was represented:
The iconic martial artist/actor features in one memorable scene during the movie (played by Mike Moh) – but the way Tarantino presents Bruce has caused some considerable uproar amongst the Lee family, including his daughter Shannon who labelled it “irresponsible”.
It turns out there really was more to this portrayal than meets the eye, as Tarantino wasn’t just joking, as I thought when I saw the movie, he actually thought Bruce Lee was “kind of arrogant.”
“If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali,’ well yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”
Bruce Lee is revered all over the world, particularly in China due to his association with Raymond Chow and the success his films enjoyed in China. It’s easy to say, “it’s just a movie” but when it comes to poking fun at the martial arts master in a movie to be shown in China, it’s definitely no joke over there.
I’m curious if the vast majority of viewers shared my interpretation of the Bruce Lee scene as humor, not intentional disrespect? I mean, after all, you have a blatant alternate reality movie showing a terrible night in American history. The movie wasn’t even tangentially about Bruce Lee. However, after reading Tarantino’s response, there is at the very least a sense of strong creative irony. Seems like there might have been a little bit of cinematic axe grinding.
Let’s also remember you can’t believe everything you read online. I read in an article that none of Quentin Tarantino’s films have been shown in China. This is totally false. Django Unchained had to be recut. A lot of films in China, not just Tarantino’s films, have needed to be edited for distribution in China.
As always, I’m curious what others think about all this. Just smoke, no fire? Did you interpret this scene with Bruce Lee as just entertainment or as an intentional shot at Bruce Lee’s reputation? I think, bearing the circumstances, it’s an interesting question for discussion.