Amid the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, Chinese producers and distributors have pulled the release of all films set for the Lunar New Year period that begins this weekend. There were seven potential blockbusters due to hit theaters this weekend, which typically kicks off a highly lucrative session at local turnstiles, but the government has warned people not to congregate in crowded spaces. Chinese health authorities announced today that 571 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the virus had been reported in 25 provincial-level regions, while 17 people have died.
In the early morning hours today, the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, was placed on lockdown with all public transportation suspended until further notice — particularly devastating during what is a major holiday for travel and family gatherings. Ticketing platform Taopiaopiao has said it will refund tickets that had been prebought by customers in the city and will do its best to work with cinemas in the rest of the country to stem customer losses, the Global Times reported.
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This is a huge blow to the local industry, however it is believed the films will be rescheduled at a later date.
Among the movies that had been set for the holiday was Detective Chinatown 3, the third in the comedy series from director Sicheng Chen. The last picture was a smash with $541M at home. The threequel was shot with IMAX cameras and was to have an IMAX screen component this weekend. It is not yet clear how the turn of events in China will affect the U.S. release of Detective Chinatown 3 which Warner Bros was due to push out on Friday.
The other marquee titles to be pulled include comedy Lost In Russia; action pic Vanguard; The Rescue from the director of Operation Red Sea; Chinese women’s volleyball story Leap which we had been hearing good things about; Legend Of Deification, from the studio behind Ne Zha; and the latest in the Boonie Bears animated franchise.