ypically, China’s Spring Festival is the biggest time of the year for blockbuster movies. But not this year.
Because of the outbreak of a new and deadly virus in Wuhan, all films that had been scheduled to open on Saturday have had their release postponed indefinitely. That includes a lineup of seven movies: Lost in Russia, Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification, The Rescue, Detective Chinatown 3, Leap, Vanguard, and Boonie Bears: The Wild Life.
Going to the cinema has become part of the Spring Festival experience for many families around the country, making the first day of the Chinese New Year the most coveted opening day on the calendar. Last year, the Chinese box office took in a whopping 5.8 billion yuan ($840 million) during the period.
However, with a SARS-like virus on the loose, now is not the time to be gathering together in a large room with a crowd of strangers. China’s major film studios reportedly voluntarily made the decision to pull their movies from theaters to protect lives.
All across China, large-scale events have been canceled including Lunar New Year’s celebrations in major cities like Beijing. Even the iconic Forbidden City has closed its doors to tourists.