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'There is no playbook': China reverses course and closes movie theaters over coronavirus fears

As the number of coronavirus cases tops 160,000 in the U.S., life is slowly returning to normal in China with the number of new infections in the country sharply leveling off.

But the fear of the unknown still persists after China suddenly shut down approximately 600-700 cinemas (again) late Friday despite its original plan to gradually reopen as a result of the slowdown.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, China was planning to re-release all four “Avengers” titles, along with “Avatar,” “Inception” and “Interstellar” — a strategic move given the films’ successes in the country.

Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Yahoo Finance this would have been a good strategy had it happened, telling Yahoo Finance, “It really is all about the content — that’s the draw [but] these are unprecedented times and there is no playbook for this crisis. It’s being written and re-written every day.”

China suddenly shut down approximately 600-700 cinemas (again) despite its original plan to gradually reopen as a result of the slowdown.

No explanation was given for the reversal, but it’s a foreboding omen for the U.S. as big-budget films like Disney’s “Mulan” (DIS) and Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Part II” (PGRE) remain at a standstill after being forced to abandon March releases. Both films have yet to select an alternate date.

Meanwhile, the latest James Bond flick, “No Time to Die,” has been postponed until November, while “Fast and Furious 9” will make its debut a whole year later in 2021.

“I think there are lessons to be learned just by observing how other countries and businesses are dealing with this situation,” Dergarabedian told Yahoo Finance.

“I think [reopening theaters] has to be a decision that maintains itself for an extended period of time, so that people feel comfortable going back to outside-of-the-home activities,” he added.

Still, Dergarabedian is confident that there will be light at the end of this tunnel, surmising that the U.S. has “pent-up demand” to return to the movies.

“People are longing for that. If you look at the areas where drive-ins have been an option, people are really embracing that because they’re trying to find that communal and immersive experience any way that they can,” he explained.

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