New Year Covid curbs blockbuster news for Chinese cinemas 

Travel restrictions forcing millions to stay at home for the annual holiday season boosted stocks of domestic entertainment firms 

by Sean OMeara
New Year Covid curbs blockbuster news for Chinese cinemas
Chinese cinemas racked up record box-office revenues during the week-long New Year holiday.

A Lunar New Year movie-going boom saw shares of entertainment firms, like IMAX China Holding Inc and Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd, surge to multi-month highs on Tuesday. 

Revenues touched 6.96 billion yuan ($1.08 billion) over the six days to Wednesday midday, live data from ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment showed. 

Chinese cinemas racked up record box-office revenues during the week-long holiday, as Covid travel curbs forced millions to forego visits home during what is usually the world's biggest annual domestic migration.

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Cinema revenues topped the 2019 record of 5.9 billion yuan, pushing year-to-date revenues past 10 billion yuan, state media said, in a movie market that last year surpassed the United States as the world's biggest.  

"It's pent-up demand, due to the virus controls and also higher ticket prices, that is behind the hefty box-office sales," said a user on China's Twitter-like Weibo, nicknamed Tianjin Share Guru. 

Although prices averaged about 50 yuan, up from 45 yuan during the 2019 holiday period, they often exceeded 70 yuan and even reached 150 yuan.

PASSENGER TRIPS

Transport ministry data shows passenger trips fell 70% nationwide over the two weeks before the Lunar New Year, which began on Friday, from the corresponding period two years ago.

The top draw was Chinatown Detective 3, a buddy action comedy set in Japan's capital of Tokyo, with sales of 3.4 billon yuan, while Hi Mom, a time-travel comedy about parenthood and family relations, came in second, raking in 2.4 billion. 

  • Reporting by Reuters

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