Virus flare-up postpones Korean War-themed film, a blow to box office
Published: Aug 06, 2021 07:01 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Bona Film Group

Photo: Courtesy of Bona Film Group

With the postponement of the highly-anticipated epic film "Changjin Hu (The Battle at Lake Changjin)," insiders predicted a lower box office this summer due to Delta variant flare-ups across China, with strict prevention measures being adopted to fight COVID-19.

Bona Film Group announced on Thursday night it would postpone the release of the Battle at Lake Changjin, which is scheduled to hit theaters on August 21, due to the epidemic caused by imported cases.

To pay homage to the Chinese People's Volunteers who entered the Korean Peninsula to fight for the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), the Battle at Lake Changjin attracted public attention before it was shot. Wu Jing, who acted in and directed the Wolf Warrior series, also acted in this movie. 

The decision was made against the backdrop of the new round of epidemic flare-ups in China, which was caused by a Delta variant strain outbreak in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, and then quickly spread to 15 provinces and cities, including Beijing, making it the worst since the coronavirus containment in Wuhan.

Authorities in China have taken stricter prevention measures to avoid a further spread. On August 4, the China Film Administration released a notice, requiring cinemas in China to strictly implement prevention measures. For example, cinemas in high- and medium-risk areas should be closed and those in low-risk areas should limit the seat occupancy rate to 75 percent.

A staff in a cinema in Haidian district in Beijing told the Global Times that people who come to see films need to screen the health QR code to get registered and their body temperatures taken before entering. "We ask all patrons to wear a mask during the screening and no food is allowed here," said the staff. 

Many Chinese netizens and insiders expressed their disappointment for not being able to see the "Battle at Lake Changjin," a highly-anticipated military-themed movie.

Judging from the reputation and also the box office, the film is considered a top film this summer. It is based on history and fits in the mainstream of patriotism. It was shot jointly by some excellent directors and actors, Luo Luo, a Beijing-based movie critic, told the Global Times. 

It was previously set to be released in summer to attract a younger audience, but the outbreak may scare people away from cinemas. "Postponing the release is responsible," Luo said, noting that the temporary closing of cinemas in some cities due to the coronavirus may also affect the film industry.

2021's box office may remain sluggish due to the coronavirus. What's worse, the epidemic in 2020 has changed some people's habits for seeing films in cinemas as they prefer to see them at home on video platforms.