China was on its way toward being back in the movie business. After the nation's 70,000 theaters were closed because of the pandemic in January, a few had begun reopening as quarantine restrictions were gradually lifted. Shanghai planned to reopen another 500 this weekend. That's not going to happen, after China on Friday again shut all of the theaters down, Variety reports. The Film Bureau didn't provide a reason for the change, but industry executives in China guessed that the government feared another round of coronavirus cases, per the Hollywood Reporter.
The executives don't expect another reversal soon. "This second closure will not be a one- or two-week issue," the executive said. "They are going to be even more cautious when they attempt to reopen again—and this will set us back a long time." The government wants new movies to be held back from release to give the industry a boost when it starts up again. One distributor said companies could be out of business by then. "We're not allowed to go online with our films and we can't go to cinemas because they are again closed," the executive said, "so it's like there is no exit." (Read more coronavirus stories.)