Chinese movie theaters raise attendance cap before holiday

Movie theaters in China will raise their cap on maximum seating capacity from the current 50 percent to 75 percent as COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Movie theaters in China will raise their cap on maximum seating capacity from the current 50 percent to 75 percent as in a mark of further recovery of the world's second-largest box-office market amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

The new attendance cap will take effect on September 25, according to the latest version of a guideline for movie theaters to resume business while putting in place COVID-19 control measures, which was issued on Tuesday by the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association.

The move comes as China's box-office revenue has hit 5 billion yuan (US$730 million) by Monday since theaters reopened on July 20, following months of closure due to COVID-19. It has been hailed as a boost to the upcoming October National Day holiday box office market.

The seven-day National Day holiday last year proved a lucrative season, contributing 5 billion yuan to China's yearly box office of over 64 billion yuan.

On the long list of movies set to hit theaters during the multi-day holiday this year are the Chinese comedy feature "My People, My Homeland" and the long-awaited animated film "Legend of Deification."

Similar to the 2019 blockbuster "My People, My Country" that also debuted around National Day, October 1, the upcoming "My People, My Homeland" adopts a storytelling technique of collective creation — one film contains multiple stories by different directors.

Comprised of five stories, "My People, My Homeland" has one of the best known Chinese filmmakers, Zhang Yimou, as the executive producer, and Ning Hao as the general director.

"Legend of Deification," a feature from the companies behind last year's China box office champion "Ne Zha," which grossed more than 5 billion yuan in China, tells the story of Jiang Ziya, a mythological figure.

Jiang Ziya is a genius strategist from the novel "Fengshen Yanyi," or "The Investiture of the Gods," a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) book that inspired "Ne Zha," the Chinese film about its eponymous hero.

The guideline released on Tuesday also says that the attendance cap for a region is subject to adjustment by provincial-level film authorities under the guidance of local epidemic prevention and control departments.

Moviegoers will have their temperatures taken before entering theaters and those who wear no masks or have a body temperature above 37.3 degrees Celsius will not be allowed in, adds the document. All tickets must be booked online with real names and sold without contact.

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