The Zhongying Golden Palm Cinema in Urumqi became the first movie theater in China to reopen its doors in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (via Variety). Urumqi is the capital of far western China’s Xinjiang region. The theater closed January 26 and its doors remained shut until the soft opening Monday, March 16. The theater was home to 22 movie screenings among several second-run Chinese titles: “Liberation,” “My People, My Country,” “Sheep Without a Shepherd,” and the animated film “Spycies.” Four children’s movies also screened, including three entries in the “Alibaba” franchise. The theater tried to entice its members to come see a movie by offering free screenings for parents and children, but not a single moviegoer showed up on day one.
“We can’t stay closed forever,” the theater operator said in a statement. “We can only cooperate with the notices, and test the situation a bit, and see what feedback we get from the public. If there are no new films, it makes no difference if we’re open or not. At the moment, we only have these few films; we have to wait and see if there will be new movies released.”
Per Variety’s report: “Golden Palm is currently staffed by only three people, who take pains to disinfect the facilities before and after each screening. Moviegoers will have their temperature taken before entering, and must wear masks. They have been advised to buy tickets spaced apart”
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Tickets can only be purchased to the cinema in person and not online. The theater operator said online sales might create more moviegoers than would be safe. “We want to take things slowly,” he said. “If the reaction is pretty good, we’ll slowly re-open bit by bit, and if it’s bad, we’ll stay shut.”
The theater operator adds that “some four or five other multiplexes in Urumqi were also in the midst of attempts to reopen.” The main reason the Zhongying Golden Palm Cinema reopened March 16 is because as of March 15 the Xinjiang region did not have a new reported case of coronavirus in 27 consecutive days. Local government approved the decision to reopen the Golden Palm.