PCR results no longer needed to enter cinemas in Beijing
Published: Dec 08, 2022 07:44 PM Updated: Dec 08, 2022 07:33 PM
People watch films in a cinema in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

People watch films in a cinema. File photo: VCG

Beijing announced that PCR test results will no longer be needed to enter cinemas as of Thursday, after Chinese government on Wednesday released 10 new anti-COVID measures to optimize response.

On Wednesday, the Beijing Municipal Film Administration (BMFA) published a notice, saying that starting from Wednesday, consumers would be able to enter theaters by scanning their codes and without checking for a negative nucleic acid test. All cinemas should earnestly implement measures such as temperature checks, wearing of masks, and regular environmental disinfection and ventilation.

The Global Times on Thursday learned from several cinemas in Beijing that they have resumed operations.

A staffer at a cinema in Beijing's Xicheng district told the Global Times that the facility prepared to resume operations right after the new policies were released and the notice from the BMFA injected more confidence.

"But we have not resumed food service at the cinema. Audiences are not allowed to eat or drink during the film. Since we are located in a shopping mall, consumers can eat elsewhere," the staffer said.

In addition to cinemas, theaters also prepared to resume operations. A staffer at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing told the Global Times on Thursday that its next show is now planned for December 14.

"We didn't offer any shows in recent weeks due to the epidemic, and it takes time to arrange new ones," the staffer said.

With the optimization of epidemic prevention and control policies in many places in China, cinemas in some regions have resumed operations, and the national box office has rebounded.

As of Thursday noon, 6,489 cinemas, or 52.21 percent of the total, were in operation, according to statistics sent from Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan to the Global Times on Thursday. The box office on Wednesday hit 12.155 million yuan ($1.7 million).

The optimization policy will greatly stimulate people's movie-watching enthusiasm, and lead to more premieres of high-quality films, industry insiders said.

Cheng Hao, a film industry analyst from Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that people still need time to adapt to the new policy.

"Only after consumers become fully relaxed about the disease can they take the initiative to go to the cinema," said Cheng.

The market urgently needs the release of some blockbusters, and the release of Avatar: The Way of Water [the sequel to the 2009 hit Avatar] has boosted the morale of the film market, Liu Zhenfei, a data analyst from Maoyan, told the Global Times.

According to live movie information tracing app Dengta, as of evening on Thursday, the total pre-sale box office of Avatar 2 had exceeded 50 million yuan, with more than 562,000 moviegoers having booked a ticket, becoming the first film to achieve such a record in 2022.

Chen Jin, a data analyst from Dengta, told the Global Times on Thursday that a number of industry watchers have raised their box office forecasts for Avatar 2.

"Avatar 2 is expected to exceed 3 billion yuan in the Chinese film market. By then, the operating rate of theaters nationwide is expected to rise from the current 50 percent to 70 percent."

Media reports said that the first Avatar currently stands as the highest-grossing film in history.