Shanghai unveils 24-hour cinemas
Two nearly century-old movie theaters became Shanghai’s first batch of “24-hour cinemas” on Monday.
The 91-year-old Grand Theater and the 89-year-old Cathay Theater in Huangpu District initially began operating after midnight as new nighttime cultural attractions.
Shanghai Vice Mayor Xu Kunlin presented "24-hour Cinema" nameplates to representatives of the two venues and said more local cinemas will follow soon.
The cinemas will cater for employees working overtime as well as citizens and tourists who like nightlife entertainment, said Hu Chen, an official with the Grand Theater on Nanjing Road W. The newly appointed "24-hour cinema managers" will adjust schedules after midnight according to audience requirements, she said.
The new 24-hour cinemas will mainly screen films after midnight. The first such midnight film "Spider-Man: Far From Home" was screened at the Grand Theater at 12:05am on Tuesday. Tickets for the new Marvel blockbuster are 19.9 yuan (US$2.89) each plus popcorn and mineral water.
In the future, the two cinemas will mainly screen classic films about the history of the Communist Party of China, popular international films, traditional Chinese opera films and premieres of new blockbusters after midnight, said Hu.
The Grand Theater once launched a trial operation in the 1990s to operate after midnight, but ended the scheme after few people attended, said Si Jun, one of the first "24-hour cinema managers" appointed on Monday.
"These overnight films could only attract large number of audiences with popular blockbusters or during festivals," Si told Shanghai Daily.
A record of more than 5 million people watched the Chinese premiere of "Avengers: Endgame" in April which was screened at midnight. Si said the cinema sold nearly all the tickets on the premiere of the movie.
"Such midnight operation will become normal at the Grand Theater in the future," he added.
Shanghai is aiming to revive its nightlife after shutting down noisy late-night bars and eateries over the past few years in response to residents’ complaints. It is part of the city government's efforts to become an international shopping destination.
According to the Shanghai Commission of Commerce and other authorities, the city aims to develop a prosperous nightlife economy between 7pm and 6am. Bars that meet requirements will be allowed to have tables on the street at certain periods. Some streets will also be closed to traffic at certain times for bars and late-night snack stalls.
More landmark nightlife destinations will be developed citywide, featuring musicals, films, bookstores, music clubs and other late-night entertainments.
The 24-hour cinemas will also host cultural events at night. The Grand Theater has opened a cultural corridor with exhibitions about the history of the cinema and Shanghai's film industry.
The Cathay Theater on Huaihai Road M. will open book clubs, music bars and audience salons where film lovers can meet and discuss relevant topics, according to the cinema.
More considerate services will be provided after midnight. For instance, staff will send hot water and blankets to senior or physically challenged audiences, Hu said.
"I think the midnight movie will become a perfect time for me to get away from the busy work on daytime and broaden my horizons," said one moviegoer.
Chen, who works at a nearby neighborhood committee, booked the Spider-Man movie for midnight on Tuesday and said he might tell more residents in his neighborhood to try the new attraction and contribute to the nightlife economy.
Huangpu District has appointed its first "nightlife director" and unveiled night attractions. The district's deputy director Chen Zhuofu is assisted by five “nightlife CEOs,” mainly experienced executives at downtown landmarks such as Yuyuan Garden Malls, Shanghai New World and Xintiandi.
Citywide, Yangpu District has also appointed its first "nightlife directors" and promoted its downtown landmarks such as Wujiaochang, Daxue Road and the Knowledge & Innovation Community as nightlife destinations.
New York named “nightlife mayors” to manage relations between neighborhoods and night spots in 2017. Similar posts have been set up in Amsterdam and London to boost the nightlife economy.