In a development that's sure to make the movie industry just feel absolutely fantastic, the first movie theater to reopen in China amidst the coronavirus pandemic got very few customers after opening their doors to the public following their long break, Variety reports. Oh, did I say very few? Not scrolling up two centimeters to check... it turns out that zero moviegoers showed up on the first day back in business.
That theater was Urumqi's Zhongying Golden Palm Cinema. And lest your lack of knowledge on Chinese geography makes you think this is a small city, Urumqi has *Googles it* a population of about 3.5 million.
The theater had shut its doors on January 26 prior to doing a soft opening on Monday. Variety reports that there were 22 movies screenings, and that the business even attempted to lure potential patrons by giving away free screenings for parents and children who are members of the cinema. That still didn't work.
“We can’t stay closed forever,” said the theater operator in a statement. “We can only cooperate with the notices, and test the situation a bit, and see what feedback we get from the public. If there are no new films, it makes no difference if we’re open or not. At the moment, we only have these few films; we have to wait and see if there will be new movies released.”
The cinema currently has just three people on staff, and they've reportedly been working hard to disinfect the joint before and after each movie is shown. People who choose to attend will also have to have their temperatures taken prior to entry, and they have to wear masks. They've also been advised to purchase tickets that aren't right next to each other.
The Golden Palm is one of a handful of Urumqi multiplexes that are attempting to feel things out with re-openings.
This is happening because the Xinjiang region, of which Urumqi is the capital, hasn't had a new case of coronavirus in nearly four straight weeks. Because of that, the local government gave them the go-ahead to reopen.
It's not a good omen but it definitely doesn't mean American theaters will be faced with the same turnout. Read what Variety wrote about the available selection of the Golden Palm's films:
[The theater] chose to run a selection of four second-run Chinese titles — two patriotic films made to praise the Communist Party, “Liberation” and “My People, My Country,” crime thriller “Sheep Without a Shepherd” and animal animation “Spycies” — and four other Chinese animated titles for children, including three from the low-budget “Alibaba” franchise.