COVID-19

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

Jasmine Garsd Jul 27, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
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
People watch a movie while wearing masks in Wuhan, China, on July 20. STR/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s been weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum that was supposed to get the federal government back into the business of topping up unemployment benefits, to $400 a week. Few states, however, are currently paying even part of the benefit that the president promised. And, it looks like, in most states, the maximum additional benefit unemployment recipients will be able to get is $300.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.