The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on the film industry, mirroring its impacts across all arts sectors. Across the world and to varying degrees, cinemas and movie theaters have been closed, festivals have been cancelled or postponed, and film releases have been moved to future dates or delayed indefinitely. As cinemas and movie theaters closed, the global box office dropped by billions of dollars, streaming became more popular, and the stock of film exhibitors dropped dramatically. Many blockbusters originally scheduled to be released between March and November were postponed or canceled around the world, with film productions also halted.
In early March 2020, it was predicted that the global box office could lose US$5 billion as a result of the pandemic. Countries that are pandemic hot-spots have closed or restricted cinemas and movie theaters, negatively affecting film revenue. Attendance has also been lower in other regions. Following the pandemic in mainland China, 70,000 cinemas were closed in January 2020. In the first two months of 2020, China’s box office was down to US$3.9 million, compared to US$2.148 billion in the first two months of 2019. Later, as a result of the pandemic in Italy, on March 8, 2020 the Italian government ordered all cinemas to be closed, for up to a month.
Before the closure, box office tracking estimated a 94% drop for the weekend of March 6–8 compared to the same period the previous year. Because of the growing pandemic in France, cinemas are operating at half capacity, leaving strategic seats unavailable to reduce proximity in the screens, a move followed days later by the Irish and Northern Irish cinema chain Omniplex Cinemas. On March 12, Qatar also closed all cinemas, as did the US on March 17, Malaysia and Thailand on March 18, the UK on March 20, Australia and New Zealand on March 22, and Singapore on March 27. After a state of emergency was declared in Tokyo and six other prefectures in Japan on April 7, over 220 cinemas were closed.
A National Association of Theatre Owners representative for California and Nevada announced that theaters would stay open; historically, movie theaters have remained open during other similar emergencies. However, a survey of Americans over the opening March weekend showed support for closing movie theaters. On March 15, Deadline reported that over 100 movie theaters in the US had closed, some due to local rulings and others because of an inability to keep them open with no demand; on March 17, with national restrictions to social gatherings, cinemas across the United States closed.
Two award ceremonies were held after the coronavirus became widespread: the 45th César Awards on February 28, and the 43rd Japan Academy Film Prize on March 6. The Japanese Academy Prize ceremony went ahead on March 6. However, the ceremony was conducted without any guests or journalists. The 14th Seiyu Awards cancelled its live ceremony scheduled for March 7 in Tokyo and instead broadcast the winners on Nippon Cultural Broadcasting‘s internet radio program. The 40th Golden Raspberry Awards were initially intended to take place as planned on March 14.
Many festivals and events have been cancelled or postponed. Postponements include the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, set to begin on March 5 and rescheduled for June 2020; the Beijing International Film Festival, planned for April 2020 and postponed indefinitely; the Prague International Film Festival, moved from late March to sometime later in 2020; the Bentonville Film Festival, set for April 29 – May 2 and moved to August; the Istanbul International Film Festival, set for April 10–21 and postponed to a later date in 2020; and the Tribeca Film Festival. The Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, a two-week festival in March, experienced low attendance during its first week and postponed its second week to August 2020. The 20th Beverly Hills Film Festival scheduled for April 1–15 is postponed indefinitely. The 38th Fajr International Film Festival, scheduled for April 16–24 in Tehran, has been postponed, with plans to organize the event in late spring.