COVID-19

Hollywood gets a little boost from China … but it might come at a price

Jasmine Garsd Jul 27, 2020
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People watch a movie while wearing masks in Wuhan, China, on July 20. STR/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Hollywood gets a little boost from China … but it might come at a price

Jasmine Garsd Jul 27, 2020
Heard on:
People watch a movie while wearing masks in Wuhan, China, on July 20. STR/AFP via Getty Images
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Last weekend, China had its first opening at the box office since the pandemic started, showing some American films like “Bloodshot” with Vin Diesel, and “Dolittle” with Robert Downey Jr. It was a partial reopening — over 40% of movie theaters at less than half capacity. The result, according to Chinese data providers: a $4.71 million three-day debut for “Dolittle” and $2.61 million for “BloodShot.” 

That’s pennies compared to what Hollywood usually rakes in, but Sky Canaves, with China Film Insider, said “it’s really, right now, one of the few avenues that Hollywood has available for its films.”

Especially with most movie theaters in America shut down indefinitely. Aynne Kokas, author of “Hollywood Made in China,” said the tables have turned dramatically.

“In March, it looked like the U.S. was actually poised to dramatically overtake the Chinese film market for 2020,” Kokas said. “Now it looks like we’re seeing the reverse.”

“Bloodshot” and “Dolittle” had already premiered in the United States and around the world. The bigger question Hollywood is facing right now is how to premiere a brand new film. Do you go straight to video streaming — like Universal did with “Trolls World Tour” — and risk the fury of U.S. theaters? Do you postpone indefinitely — like Disney recently did with “Mulan” — and disappoint fans? 

Or a third alternative might be premiering films in theaters in countries that have already reopened. 

That’s the strategy for Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated new sci-fi movie, “Tenet,” which will open internationally in late August ahead of its Labor Day release in the U.S. Mike Smith, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said that could open the doors to piracy.

“As soon as you release it in some of these markets, you’re going to get a pirate copy that originates from the theatrical screening, and that pirate copy is going to infect the worldwide markets,” he said. 

There are a lot of questions for Hollywood and fans, and for now, not a lot of answers.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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