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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #211
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    continued from previous post

    Of particular interest to me has been the differences and similarities in how universities, on the one hand, and martial arts schools, on the other, have handled the migration to an online format. To be entirely honest, I am not sure how successful this experiment has been on he academic side. Chronic absenteeism and levels of rock-bottom morale suggesting actual depression have left many high-school and college instructors struggling to connect with their students. I have seen some great on-line teaching happen in traditional martial arts venues, but this is also a crowd that generally self-selects. Still, it is always fascinating to see these two world coming together as happened recently when the Taijiquan classes sponsored by Miami University’s Confucius Institute were forced to turn to on-line grading for their students’ Duanwei advancement.

    “WA martial arts business owner willing to go to jail to stay open.” While most news stories featured discussions of the move to on-line teaching, the previous headline reminds us that a not insignfigant number of schools have refused to take this rout. In the last month there have been several stories of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools that have refused to close their doors in defiance of state and local regulations. One of these is the Battleground Martial Arts Academy in Battleground Washington.
    “Rodeman says he disinfects the space on a daily basis, and does everything to maintain a clean environment. But he also noted that his business doesn’t really fit into the phased reopening plan, which left him with few options.
    “A law enforcement officer came to my door, handed me a paper that says I can’t even reopen until phase four. I said, ‘Even at phase four, I’m still not legally able to practice jujitsu in here.’”
    “So I decided to say, I can’t agree to that, I can’t follow,” he said. “I could be looking at a $5,000 fine and one year in jail. … I’m willing to make a stand because I believe what I’m doing is right.”
    Prolonged closures is a threat to all sorts of martial arts schools and gyms. Still, BJJ schools seem to face additional challenges as their style has grounded its legitimacy not in solo-drills with grappling dummies, or Zoom conditioning classes, but rather in constant practice with a non-cooperative opponent. Not all instructors are enthusiastic about the possibilities of remote instruction as a way to stay connected with their students. Additionally, given the popularity of the style many schools are located in large locations which command relatively high rents. Similar stories of defiance are playing out in other states as well, such as the case of Rice Brothers BJJ in California.

    “(My group) thinks the virus is on the downscale and there are studies that came out that show most of us have had coronavirus anyway,” Rice said. “We need to operate and we need to pay rent. It’s either we go broke and file bankruptcy or we operate business.”… Rice isn’t going to conduct online classes and remains adamant about allowing his grapplers to train at his gym. Rice says he is making his students follow proper sanitation guidelines by having them wear only freshly-cleaned gis and his staff is washing down the mats before and after each training session.”

    Of course the vast majority of BJJ schools have opted to place the safety of their students and local community first by following state and local regulations. Still, the economic costs of being a good citizen are high as the following article reminds us. There is some relief on the horizon for gyms and martial arts studios in states like Georgia and Florida which are currently encouraging reopening. Yet once again, the intimate nature of BJJ training seems to ensure that returning to the mats will not necessarily be a return to normal training.

    Gracie Barra Martial Arts School in Kissimmee is implementing several safety measures, including having each person practice in their own square, 6 feet apart from others.
    “We are allowing people who live in the same household to train together, such as siblings, spouses, roommates,” Owner of Gracie Barra, Igor Andrade, said.
    The school is also requiring temperature checks and sanitizing at the door. Members must also come dressed and ready to avoid crowded use of locker rooms.


    While COVID-19 is having a profound impact on small businesses around the globe, its effects are also playing themselves out in the realm of public diplomacy. One Chinese, English language, tabloid ran a story titled “Chinese Martial Arts Help Cubans Deal with COVID-19 Lockdown.” The traditional arts seem to be almost custom made for this sort of event. And given the profound ways in which the COVID-19 outbreak has damaged China’s global image, it is not surprising to see stepped up public diplomacy efforts. At least some of that has come in form of increased support for martial arts communities overseas, as this article reminds us. Facing profound economic dislocation, the Chinese embassy in Rwanda has donated a large amount of food to help support the country’s Kung Fu community in the hopes that they can continue their training.
    The National Review (which has a very specific editorial direction) addressed these sorts of efforts in an article titled “Traditional Chinese Medicine as Soft-Power Play.” While it directly addresses TCM’s interplay with COVID crisis, one suspects that similar arguments could be made about certain martial arts programs.
    “As scientists and biotechnology companies around the world are racing to develop therapeutic drugs and a vaccine for COVID-19, China has been busy promoting traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) abroad as an effective treatment for the disease. The Chinese government reported that 87 percent of COVID-19 patients in China received TCM as part of their treatment and that 92 percent of them had shown improvement as a result. This claim hasn’t been independently or scientifically verified. So why is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) advocating TCM with such vigor? Ultimately, this push is part of a soft-power play.”
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  2. #212
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    Dragonfest Canceled



    Event Canceled
    Dragonfest Canceled for 2020

    Welcome to the 16th Annual Dragonfest!!!


    16th ANNUAL DRAGONFEST!
    Dragonfest canceled for 2020.

    We had hoped to postpone Dragonfest to later in the year, however, with the uncertainty of the governor of California on the re-opening of the state, and the large gathering of people, we have chosen to cancel Dragonfest for 2020. We are making this announcement now so that you can cancel and hotel reservations or airline tickets. We will be back for 2021. For vendors, we will contact you the last week of May to determine if you want a refund to hold the booth rental for next year.
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  3. #213
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    Sponsor loss


    CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman’s George Floyd tweet sees Reebok and Rogue drop sponsorship

    Greg Glassman’s ‘FLOYD-19’ Tweet has caused Rogue and Reebok to drop CrossFit but both will fulfil their 2020 obligations
    By Mark Agnew
    8 Jun 2020


    Greg Glassman’s latest Tweet has seen mass condemnation from the CrossFit community. Photo: Ruby Wolff

    CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman has come under fire after publishing a tweet appearing to compare the death of George Floyd to the coronavirus, with sponsors pulling their support for the sport.
    Reebok, one of the sport’s two main sponsors, has dropped its affiliation with CrossFit. The sportswear brand were in discussions over a new agreement, but said: “in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” in a statement, adding that they remain passionate about the CrossFit community.
    CrossFit CEO sorry for ‘Floyd-19’ tweet – ‘a mistake, not racist’
    The sport’s other main sponsor, Rogue, has removed the CrossFit logo from The Rogue Invitationals and threatened to cease association completely, depending on how CrossFit moves forward.
    Froning condemns George Floyd tweet, athletes boycott CrossFit Games
    Replying to a Tweet by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that called racism and discrimination “public health issues”, Glassman wrote “It’s FLOYD-19”, referring to George Floyd, the black man killed by a white police officer in the US, and the global pandemic Covid-19.

    He added in another Tweet: “Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd's brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is “accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.” Thanks!”
    Glassman plays a very visible role in the sport. He has rarely shied away from controversy, weighing in on topics such as supporting trans-athletes and their right to compete under their chosen gender.

    But his recent tweet has brought swift condemnation.
    The Rogue Invitationals, one of the biggest events of the year, will no longer carry the CrossFit logo, the company stated on Instagram.
    “Rogue will work with the CrossFit Games leadership to determine the best path forward. We will fulfil the 2020 season for the athletes and the community. The future is dependent on the direction and leadership within CrossFit HQ,” the post read.

    Mat Fraser, four-time winner of the CrossFit Games, published a post thanking Rogue for their decision. He added support for his former gym, NCFIT, which said they were no longer a CrossFit affiliate.
    Katrin Davidsdottir, the 2015 and 2016 CrossFit Games champion, posted on Instagram that she was “ashamed, disappointed and angry”, before suggesting she could withdraw from the sport.

    “I haven’t had much time to process this, organise my thoughts or speak to those involved so for the time being I am going to keep it at this. I don’t know what this means for myself or the sport. But for now: I know this is NOT RIGHT and that needs to be said,” she added.
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  4. #214
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    Chollywood on hold


    CORONAVIRUS
    China’s Darkened Movie Theaters Pose a Danger to Hollywood

    Billions are at stake as the world’s second-biggest box office market keeps cinemas closed during its halting recovery from COVID-19.
    BY ANTHONY BREZNICAN
    JUNE 19, 2020


    FROM STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.

    Even as China gradually gets back on its feet from the devastation of its COVID-19 outbreak and quarantine earlier this year, its roughly 70,000 movie theaters remain dark, one aspect of everyday life that remains locked down by the government.

    President Xi Jinping has indicated no rush to reopen the nation’s cinemas, cutting off the world’s second-largest market, which was close to usurping the United States as number one. China’s strict cultural ministry only allows a limited number of international films into the country, and Hollywood has often tried to break through by tailoring scripts to remove elements undesirable to censors or adding scenes with popular Chinese stars.

    The enduring lockdown on Chinese theaters was chronicled by the New York Times in a recent article, which stated that it was one factor “holding back the Chinese economy when the world needs it most.” The article noted that even though theaters for plays and concerts had reopened, Xi had continued to keep cinemas shuttered. “If anyone wants to watch a movie, just watch it online,” Xi said during a public appearance on March 31.

    But what are the actual losses for both Hollywood and other filmmakers around the globe? The answer, in a word: massive.

    China’s total contribution to the global box office in 2019 was $9.2 billion. The North American tally was $11.4 billion. Together they made up nearly half of the world’s total movie ticket sales of $42.5 billion.

    “China can often save a movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst with the media-metrics tracker Comscore. He cited Terminator Genisys and the two Pacific Rim movies as titles that benefited from being Chinese hits. “Some of those films that didn’t do well in North America did do well internationally, particularly in China.”

    He called China “the savior of many a would-be blockbuster that, had they relied merely on their North American box office, would have remained really in the red.”

    If the country’s theaters remain closed indefinitely, the lost revenue could be catastrophic. That’s more than Hollywood studios can reckon with at the moment, as the effort continues to both restart production of new films and get North American theaters operational again. Studio executives don’t know when that will happen, even as they barrel toward the late-July releases of would-be blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.

    This adds another layer to the already-complicated relationship between studios and China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, which typically allows fewer than 40 international films to screen per year. In addition, China enforces periodic “blackouts” when no new international films can screen publicly.

    If China’s leadership wants to hold back the reopening of movie theaters, pressuring them to do otherwise could backfire, making a bad situation worse.

    Comscore’s total $9.2 billion number for China’s 2019 box office only tells part of the story. Of that number, about $2.9 billion went to Hollywood films. In 2018, the country’s total box office was about $8.8 billion, and $3.2 billion was for Hollywood films. In 2017, the total was $8.3 billion, while approximately $3.4 billion went to American studios.

    That means that even as China’s box office prowess has increased, the share of money going to Hollywood has slightly diminished. Will the prolonged shutdown of theaters accelerate that decline, or will Chinese moviegoers be so hungry for cinematic escape that the box office comes roaring back?

    As per usual in Hollywood, the answer is the old maxim: Nobody knows anything. Except that there’s a lot of money to be found in China, for those who can collect it.
    At first, I thought Covid would put a damper of Chollywood Rising. Now I'm beginning to wonder if they will emerge the victor.
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    down 20%

    JUNE 18, 2020 / 8:53 PM / 4 DAYS AGO
    China says one-fifth of Belt and Road projects 'seriously affected' by pandemic

    2 MIN READ

    BEIJING (Reuters) - About 20% of projects under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to link Asia, Europe and beyond have been “seriously affected” by the coronavirus pandemic, an official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

    According to a survey by the ministry, about 40% of projects have seen little adverse impact, and another 30-40% have been somewhat affected, said Wang Xiaolong, director-general of the ministry’s International Economic Affairs Department, at a news briefing in Beijing.

    “About 20% percent of the projects have been seriously affected,” he said. Wang did not give any details.

    The results from the survey were better than expected and although some projects had been put on hold, China had not heard of any major projects being cancelled, he added.

    Over 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in BRI projects like railways, ports, highways and other infrastructure. According to a Refinitiv database, over 2,600 projects at a cost of $3.7 trillion are linked to the initiative.

    Restrictions on travel and the flow of goods across borders, as well as local measures to combat COVID-19, were the main reasons for the impacts on projects, said Wang.

    “As the situation improves we have confidence that the projects will come back and the execution of them will speed up,” he said.

    The challenge of the pandemic to BRI projects follows a pushback in 2018, when officials in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere criticized projects there as costly and unnecessary.

    China scaled back some plans after several countries sought to review, cancel or scale down commitments, citing concerns over costs, erosion of sovereignty, and corruption.

    (This story adds dropped words in lead paragraph)
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  6. #216
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    I'm never going to Wuhan

    China
    Wuhan residents told to stay indoors again after record rainfall
    City at centre of coronavirus outbreak faces new crisis as China suffers weeks of flooding
    Lillian Yang and Lily Kuo in Beijing
    Mon 6 Jul 2020 08.06 EDTLast modified on Mon 6 Jul 2020 08.41 EDT


    A flooded road in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Monday. Authorities raised the emergency warning to the second-highest level, forecasting more rain. Photograph: China News Service/Getty Images

    People living in Wuhan, the central Chinese city that bore the brunt of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, have been told stay indoors once more after record rainfall prompted authorities to raise the city’s emergency response to the second highest-level.

    A prolonged period of heavy rain is the latest disaster to strike China, where people are only just recovering from the coronavirus outbreak.

    State media have been accused of downplaying the severity of the floods, emphasising the heroic efforts of emergency workers by publishing prominent images of soldiers rescuing trapped residents.

    Residents waded waist-deep along waterlogged streets in Wuhan, filled after a record 426mm (16.8 inches) fell between Sunday and Monday morning. Authorities raised the four-tier emergency warning to level two on Monday, predicting more severe weather in the coming days.

    The country is braced for more flooding, after weeks of what has been for some regions the heaviest rainfall in decades triggered severe flooding and mudslides in almost every province, affecting more than 20 million people and resulting in direct economic losses of at least Ł4.7bn.

    China’s national weather service has issued rainstorm warnings for more than 31 consecutive days. “This has rarely been seen in recent years,” the state-run People’s Daily wrote on Weibo. At least 121 people have died or gone missing and more than 875,000 people have been forced to relocate, according to China’s ministry of emergency management. But internet users have questioned why the rains have received so little attention.

    “Why does our official media say nothing about the severe floods in the south of our country,” one user wrote on Weibo. Another said: “The topic of flooding is like a tattoo – covered up.”

    Mingbai Zhishi, an independent social media account or “self media”, wrote: “The floods raging in the south will not be quiet, but unlike in the past, the media are not rushing to report it. It really is quiet.”

    Several areas of Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, have already flooded. Torrential rain in Jingmen flooded shops and supermarkets. Helen Hai, 25, in Changyang county east of Wuhan in Hubei province, described driving and passing landslides and rocks falling along the mountain roads. The windscreen wipers were useless against the fast and constant downpour.

    “It was like driving blind, like driving in the water,” Hai said. The rains, which flooded areas like hers last weekend, were unceasing. “The rain poured non-stop from morning until night. It was very frightening and I feel it is very unusual.”

    Elsewhere, in the city of Tongren in Guizhou province in the mountainous south-west, the floods formed a giant waterfall in the city centre. In Chongqing, in Sichuan province, more than 100,000 people were evacuated as dozens of homes were destroyed.

    On 29 June, after weeks of heavy rains and floods, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, gave his first public statement on the crisis, calling on the country to “put people first and value people’s lives most in the fight against the floods”, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

    Experts say officials are also obscuring the danger of the dams in rivers across southern and south-western China where the floods have been the worst. “This is their tradition. They never disclose how the disaster is made or why it has happened,” said Wang Weiluo, a Chinese hydrologist and outspoken critic of the giant Three Gorges hydroelectricity plant.

    “Most people think floods are caused by extreme weather but it is mainly caused by the discharge of reservoirs and the result of flood control works,” he said.

    Wang believes the actual losses may be greater than official reports. The recent example of the coronavirus outbreak, where authorities at first did not disclose the risk of contagion and punished whistleblowers such as Li Wenliang, a doctor, is instructive, according to Wang.

    “Blocking information is the beginning of a disaster. Any flood starts when the information is blocked. Just like Li Wenliang said: ‘A healthy society should not only have one voice.’ “In China, there is only one voice of the central meteorological station and when that one is wrong, everyone gets the wrong information.”

    Hai is not surprised that the authorities would want to downplay the crisis. “It is very common. They have been doing this for a long time, not just with flooding but also other problems,” she said. “It is hard for me to judge the government data but I tend to expect the real situation is worse than they claim.”
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  7. #217
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    Shaolin reopened

    Kung fu shrine Shaolin Temple reopens to public
    Xinhua
    20:15 UTC+8, 2020-06-22

    China's kung fu shrine Shaolin Temple reopened to the public on Monday, ending a months-long closure amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

    The 1,500-year-old temple, in central China's Henan Province, opened its gates at 9 a.m., ushering in its first tourists in five months.

    The temple declared it had enhanced epidemic control measures, including thorough disinfection of the temple and nucleic acid testing among its monks.

    The Shaolin Temple, like many other scenic spots and cultural sites in China, closed in late January as the country moved to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Source: Xinhua Editor: Zhang Long
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  8. #218
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    First pestilence, then floods


    China has just contained the coronavirus. Now it's battling some of the worst floods in decades

    By Nectar Gan, CNN
    Updated 5:18 AM ET, Tue July 14, 2020
    Parts of China wrecked by raging flood waters

    (CNN)Weeks of torrential rains have caused the worst flooding in China in recent decades, destroying the homes and livelihoods of millions of people as the country struggles to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Since June, devastating floods have impacted 38 million people -- more than the entire population of Canada. Some 2.24 million residents have been displaced, with 141 people dead or missing, the Ministry of Emergency Management said Monday.
    On Sunday, Chinese authorities raised the country's flood alert to the second highest level in a four-tier emergency response system. Chinese President Xi Jinping described the flood control situation as "very grim" and called for "stronger and more effective measures" to protect lives and assets.


    Rescuers evacuate residents on a raft through flood waters in Jiujiang in central China's Jiangxi province on July 8.

    The unfolding disaster comes as China is still reeling from the aftermath of the coronavirus.
    The pandemic and a weeks-long shutdown throughout much of China dealt a historic blow to the country's economy. GDP shrank 6.8% in the first quarter, the first contraction that Beijing has reported since 1976. The country promised in May to throw 3.6 trillion yuan ($500 billion) at its economy this year in tax cuts, infrastructure projects and other stimulus measures as part of a bid to create 9 million jobs and blunt the fallout from the pandemic.
    The flooding is likely to complicate those recovery efforts. Some of the worst affected areas include many of the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus, just months after they emerged from strict lockdown measures.
    While summer flooding is a common reoccurrence in China due to the seasonal rains, this year's deluge is particularly bad. It has hit 27 out of the 31 provincial regions in mainland China, and in some places, water levels have reached perilous heights not seen since 1998, when massive floods killed more than 3,000 people.


    Floodwaters flow past a residential building in Chongqing in southwest China on July 1.

    A total of 443 rivers nationwide have been flooded, with 33 of them swelling to the highest levels ever recorded, the Ministry of Water Resources said Monday.
    The majority of these rivers are in the vast basin of the Yangtze River, which flows from west to east through the densely populated provinces of central China. The river is the longest and most important waterway in the country, irrigating large swathes of farmland and linking a string of inland industrial metropolises with the commercial hub of Shanghai on the eastern coast.
    This year, the summer rains arrived early and poured with unusual intensity. Over the past weeks, the average precipitation in the Yangtze River basin reached a record high since 1961, authorities said.
    "Compared with before, this year's rainfall was more intense and repeatedly poured down on the same region, which brought significant pressure on flood control," Chen Tao, the chief weather forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.


    This aerial view shows a bridge leading to the inundated Tianxingzhou island in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on July 13.

    Sweeping floodwaters left a trail of devastation, ravaging 8.72 million acres of farmland, destroying 28,000 homes and in some cases submerging entire towns.
    According to state news agency Xinhua, by Sunday, the floods had caused 82.23 billion yuan ($11.75 billion) of economic losses nationwide.
    In central China's Hubei province, which accounted for more than 80% all of China coronavirus cases, historic levels of rainfall were recorded in several cities, causing widespread floods and landslides. As of Thursday, more than 9 million residents have been affected in the province of 60 million people, causing 11.12 billion yuan ($1.59 billion) of economic losses, Xinhua reported.
    Last week, authorities in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus, raised the city's flood alert level to the second highest, after days of heavy downpours submerged many of its roads and a waterfront park.


    Residents swim past a riverside pavilion submerged by the flooded Yangtze River in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on July 8.

    Further downstream on the Yangtze River, in eastern Jiangxi province, the water levels in China's biggest freshwater lake, the Poyang Lake, rose to a historic high of 22.52 meters (74 feet), well above the alert level of 19.50 meters (64 feet), according to Xinhua.
    As of Sunday afternoon, floods had disrupted the lives of over 5.5 million people in the province, with nearly half a million evacuated from their homes, China's state-broadcaster CCTV reported.
    The flooding is unlikely to subside as more heavy rains are forecast for the coming days. On Tuesday, the China Meteorological Administration issued a blue alert for heavy rain from Tuesday to Saturday in multiple provinces in the country, including Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
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  9. #219
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    $200+M loss


    BUSINESS
    China's Wanda Film Warns of $226M Loss After 6 Months of Cinema Shutdowns
    6:51 PM PDT 7/14/2020 by Patrick Brzeski


    Getty Images
    A Wanda cinema in China

    China's largest cinema operator, which also controls North America's largest chain AMC Theatres, has seen all of its Asian theaters idle since Jan. 25, months before movie theater shutdowns hit the U.S.

    China's largest cinema chain operator Wanda Film said it expects to lose $214 to $228 million (RMB 1.5 to 1.6 billion) in the first half of 2020 thanks to over five months on continual cinema shutdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The decline represents a stark reversal of fortunes from the $75 million profit the Chinese exhibition giant reported during the same period in 2019. "Operating income dropped by a big margin compared with the same period last year," the company said in a statement, noting its ongoing rent and salary obligations.

    Movie theaters across China shut down en masse on Jan. 23, shortly before the weeklong Lunar Near Year holiday, always the country's biggest box office stretch of the year. Wanda's production and distribution business also are hurting amid the pandemic. The studio's latest tentpole Detective Chinatown 3, the latest installment in a series that has grossed nearly $700 million, was set to be released over the holiday but remains on the shelf. Production of other projects has been indefinitely delayed.

    Total box office in China for the first half of 2020 was $311 million (RMB 2.2 billion), down 93 percent from $4.4 billion (RMB 31.2 billion) during the same period last year, according to data from Artisan Gateway.

    Although China has made great strides in controlling the coronavirus, cinema operators have suffered repeated setbacks in their attempts to resume business over the past several months.

    In mid-March, Beijing regulators appeared to have settled on a province-by-province phased reopening strategy, giving approximately 600 cinemas in the least COVID-19-affected regions of the country the green light to reopen. Within days, however, they were ordered reshuttered, reportedly at the direction of senior central government authorities who were concerned about the prospect of a second outbreak. The industry went back into waiting.

    In early May, reopening again appeared imminent. China’s top administrative body, the State Council, publicly stated on May 8 that indoor entertainment facilities, including cinemas and live music venues, could resume business nationwide. Yet no instructions for precisely when and how the reopening should be undertaken were ever provided, keeping theater operators in limbo, awaiting further guidance from officialdom. Then, on June 11, Beijing discovered a fresh cluster of locally transmitted COVID-19 infections at a food processing facility, prompting the city's health authorities to again order cinemas to remain shut.

    Rumors circulated through Beijing industry circles earlier this month that the reboot was finally coming in late July, but an official plan, or confirmation, has been unforthcoming.

    Wanda also is the largest shareholder in North American cinema chain AMC Theatres — the Chinese company owns 49.85 percent of AMC's outstanding common stock, but holds 74.89 percent of the combined voting power — but Tuesday's earnings warning made no mention of the group's North American holdings. AMC is held by a division of the Dalian Wanda Group parent company, not the Wanda Film subsidiary, which is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange.
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    Shanghai is on


    MOVIES
    Shanghai Film Festival Set to Open July 25 Without Foreign Guests
    10:15 PM PDT 7/15/2020 by Patrick Brzeski


    studioEAST/Getty Images
    Shanghai

    The 2020 edition of the festival, now scheduled to begin in just over one week, will take a condensed form and be mostly a Chinese affair, staffers for the festival told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday.

    The Shanghai International Film Festival, China's longest-running major cinema event, will take place in-person beginning July 25.

    The 2020 edition of the festival, now scheduled to kick off in just over one week, will take a condensed form and be mostly a Chinese affair, staffers for the event told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday. The festival will go without its usual international jury and main competition, instead screening an abridged selection of gala films for the public and local industry. The event's screening lineup is expected to be released in the days ahead.

    The Shanghai International TV Festival, typically held in tandem with the film festival, will take place in abridged form from Aug. 3 to 7.

    Chinese immigration authorities continue to maintain strict bars on entry for foreign travelers from most of the world, and lengthy quarantine requirements are in place for all returning Chinese citizens. Festival organizers say offshore guests won't be formally invited to the festival, but staff from international film companies stationed within China will be welcome to attend.

    The festival, considered China's most prestigious international cinema event, typically is held in mid-June, but it was postponed this year in response to the pandemic.

    News of the festival's renewed plans for a physical edition follow an announcement from China's Film Bureau earlier in the day permitting Chinese cinemas in regions deemed "low-risk" for coronavirus infection to resume business on July 20.
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  11. #221
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    China's cinemas reopen next Monday

    Jul 15, 2020 10:18pm PT
    China to Begin Reopening Cinemas
    By Rebecca Davis


    ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

    China will begin reopening cinemas in “low-risk regions” from July 20, the China Film Administration (CFA) announced Thursday, ending nearly six months of closures that left thousands of theaters bankrupt.

    “Cinemas in low-risk regions can resume business in an orderly manner on July 20, with the effective implementation of prevention and control measures. Mid- and high-risk regions must temporarily remain closed,” the administration said in a statement posted to its official website.

    “Once low-risk regions become designated as mid- or high-risk regions, they must strictly implement epidemic prevention and control measures…[and] cinemas must close again in a timely fashion in accordance with requirements.”

    The long-awaited green light comes, however, with caveats that may mean that profits continue to prove elusive for the hard-hit Chinese exhibition sector.

    Attendance of each screening will be capped at 30%, the CFA said in a four-page document of specific guidelines and safety measures, and the overall number of screenings per venue must be reduced to “half their number in a normal period.” Furthermore, each film screening may not exceed two hours in length, it said — without providing further detail as to what this might mean for longer films.

    Meanwhile, concessions — cinemas’ biggest profit driver — will be banned.

    “Film screening venues will not sell snacks and beverages, and eating and drinking in the screening rooms is prohibited,” it said.

    Other indoor businesses such as restaurants or transportation resumed operations months ago in China, and currently do not face policy restrictions on their operating capacity.

    The CFA said that cinemas will be required to follow the “precise and scientific implementation of prevention and control measures.”

    All tickets must now be sold virtually through real-name registered online reservations, and procured via contactless methods, it said. Different parties unknown to each other should be sold seats more than a meter apart.

    Public areas like lobbies, corridors and bathrooms should be disinfected no less than twice a day, while commonly touched areas like ticket vending machines, sales counters and public seats should be wiped down no less than five times a day. Armrests, 3D classes and other such frequently touched items should be disinfected after each use. Ventilation in screening halls must be improved.

    Masks will be mandatory for both employees and customers, with temperatures taken for anyone entering the venue.

    Employees returning to work from mid- and high-risk regions will be asked to quarantine, and to “reduce unnecessary going out and avoid frequenting crowded places.”

    The CFA also described the precise bureaucratic mechanism by which reopenings will be monitored.

    “Once each region’s local film department has received the local party committee and government’s approval for their plan to reopen cinemas, they should discuss with the local CDC how to reopen in accordance with the rules,” it explained. Ultimately, different regions’ plans for re-opening must be reported back up to the national-level CFA.

    Unverified leaked documents and statements from insiders indicate that cinemas in Guangzhou, one of China’s top movie-going regions, may be among the first batch to reopen.

    The problem now facing cinemas is what they will have to show viewers, when.

    When a small portion of cinemas reopened briefly in March, business was dismal. Venues were unable to attract much of a crowd by offering stale local titles that most people had already seen. Fresh content will now be crucial to getting people through the door.

    The first film to confirm its intentions to release theatrically in China was “The First Farewell,” a Xinjiang-set about three Uighur children which Variety called “an outstanding debut feature” from writer-director Wang Lina. Even before authorities had mentioned any timeline for reopening cinemas, the movie said earlier this month that it was “scheduled to screen the first day cinemas reopen.” It issued a new tagline aligned with its tale of sorrowful partings: “Let’s meet again after a long period of separation.”

    Previously, a number of Hollywood films were set to hit Chinese cinemas to reel in post-COVID crowds. They included a 3D, 4K restoration of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” as well as “1917” and “Little Women,” which both began putting out new promotional material in May, apparently in anticipation of a theatrical run. All four films of the “Avengers” series, “Coco,” “Call of the Wild,” Oscar winner “Jojo Rabbit,” “Inception,” “Avatar” and “Interstellar” are other Western movies whose names have appeared as potential kickstarters for the Chinese box office.

    Others like “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and “Bad Boys for Life” are also already sitting in the holding tank, having been approved for earlier, cancelled Chinese theatrical releases.

    Yet just because the doors are open doesn’t mean that the profits will flow. Confidence in a quick rebound at the box office appears in some quarters, at least, to be low.

    On Wednesday, the $43 million-budgeted, effects-laden Chinese fantasy actioner “Double World” announced that it would forgo a theatrical debut in favor of premiering online on iQiyi and Netflix, where it will debut next weekend. The decision at least “provides us with a way to reach users and recoup our investment,” its producer Zhang Amu said.
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  12. #222
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    reopening

    Jul 17, 2020 9:45am PT
    ‘Pursuit of Happyness,’ ‘Dolittle,’ ‘Bloodshot,’ And ‘Coco’ Set to Open China Cinemas

    By Rebecca Davis


    Bloodshot Movie Vin Diesel
    Courtesy of Sony

    Chinese cinemas will open next week in regions at low risk for COVID-19 with a boost from a slew of Hollywood titles, including “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Dolittle,” “Bloodshot,” and “Coco.”

    China’s theaters have been closed for longer than any other country’s, having stayed dark — despite a brief attempt to reopen in March — since the lunar new year holiday in late January.

    As of early Saturday morning in China, 22 films are set to hit theaters on Monday, the first day of reopenings, including U.S. films “Pursuit of Happyness,” “Coco,” and “A Dog’s Purpose.”

    The others are all Chinese re-run titles, except for one new one: “A First Farewell,” a well-received arthouse title set in China’s Xinjiang region that screened as part of last year’s Generation Kplus selection at Berlin.

    The opening day offerings include: blockbusters “Wolf Warrior 2,” “Monster Hunt,” “Wolf Totem,” “American Dreams in China,” and Jackie Chan’s “CZ12”; comedies “The Mermaid” and “Goodbye Mr. Loser”; thrillers “Sheep Without A Shepherd” and Huayi Brothers’ 2009 “The Message”; rom-coms “How Long Will I Love You” and “Beijing Love Story”; propaganda film “The Moment of the Sunrise”; and animations “Big Fish and Begonia,” “White Snake,” “Nezha,” “The Adventure of Afanti,” and the classic 1960s version of the “Journey to the West” tale, “The Monkey King (Uproar in Heaven),” a nostalgic audience favorite.

    “Happyness,” the 2006 biographical drama starring Will Smith, appears to have had a short run in China back in 2008, grossing just $848,000. Chinese audiences typically gravitate towards emotional but ultimately feel-good titles, so distributors are likely hoping it will tap into viewers who recently enjoyed Oscar-winning “Green Book” enough to shoot it to a gross $71 million in China last year — just a few million shy of its $85 million U.S. run.

    “Coco” did extremely well in China, despite featuring ghosts, which the country’s censorship regime technically bans. It grossed $189 million in 2017.

    Meanwhile, four foreign films are set to debut July 24, kicking off cinemas’ first opening weekend back in business. They are: “Dolittle,” “Bloodshot,” “Capernaum,” and “A Dog’s Journey,” the Dennis Quaid-starring sequel to “A Dog’s Purpose.”

    Universal’s “Dolittle” was supposed to screen Feb. 21 in China, but was indefinitely pushed back due to COVID-19 as cinemas shut. Its star Robert Downey Jr. is beloved to Chinese fans for playing Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Superhero film “Bloodshot” was released March 13 stateside. Its China release could give it a shot at profitability, given that headliner Vin Diesel has a large fan base there thanks to his “Fast & Furious” franchise appearances. Made on a reported $45 million budget, the title grossed just $29 million globally, $10 million of which was earned in the U.S.

    “Capernaum” already became a surprise theatrical hit last year in China, grossing $54 million last April, a sum greater than its haul anywhere else in the world.

    Variety has seen a leaked list of titles that state-run distributor China Film Group has sent out to cinemas but was unable to verify its origins. It said that in addition to the films listed above that have already confirmed, the first two “Avengers” series films (2012’s “The Avengers” and 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), James Cameron’s classic “Titanic,” and local sci-fi mega-hit “The Wandering Earth” will be re-released but have yet to set dates.

    The document indicated that nearly all the Chinese re-releases would screen via a “charity” model in which distributors and producers will forgo their cut of box office returns in favor of handing it over to help struggling exhibitors. “Capernaum,” whose China rights are held by Road Pictures, will also be released under this model, but not the other foreign films .

    Meanwhile, the well-anticipated local animated film “Mr. Miao” has confirmed it will release on July 31.
    What an odd selection of films. Man, I miss going out to the movies...

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  13. #223
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    Kung Fu Buffet closes

    Kung Fu Buffet closing due to COVID-19
    NEWS
    Posted: Jul 18, 2020 / 04:28 PM EDT / Updated: Jul 19, 2020 / 11:33 AM EDT

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local restaurant is closing due to decreased business from COVID-19.

    Kung Fu Buffet located off of Stellhorn Rd. announced Saturday on Facebook of their closing. The post states:

    “We’ve got some bad news… Due to COVID business has been very bad so we are deciding to close on July 31st for good. Thanks to all the customers who has been supporting us ever since the beginning!”

    WANE 15 spoke with an employee who also confirmed the closure.

    Until the closure, takeout orders are still available.

    Kung Fu Buffet is also selling equipment from the restaurant at this time. If interested, contact information can be found on the website.

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  14. #224
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    Summer movies 2020

    ENTERTAINMENT MOVIES
    FAREWELL FOR NOW, TENET. HERE’S WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE SUMMER MOVIE SEASON THAT NEVER WAS
    Farewell for Now, Tenet. Here’s What We Learned From the Summer Movie Season That Never Was
    BY ELIANA DOCKTERMAN
    JULY 20, 2020 11:08 PM EDT

    Summer movie season is canceled for the first time since Jaws became the first warm-weather blockbuster in 1975.

    On Monday, after months of delays and uncertainty, Warner Bros. officially postponed Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated spy movie starring John David Washington, indefinitely. Since the coronavirus pandemic first caused movie theaters to shutter in March, the film industry, theater owners and fans had all looked to Tenet as the must-see-on-the-big-screen popcorn movie that might save the summer of 2020. If anything could lure audiences back to theaters after months of lockdown, it would be a spectacle from the filmmaker behind The Dark Knight, Inception and Dunkirk, a longtime champion of the value of the theatrical experience.

    But as COVID-19 case numbers continued to rise across the U.S., it became abundantly clear that reopening movie theaters would not be safe. Tenet’s release date shifted from mid-July to late July and then to mid-August. As recently as last week, Nolan himself staunchly insisted that Tenet would release this summer. Now, those who had held out hope are facing the reality that one movie could never have borne that much responsibility, much less in the face of a public health crisis far beyond its control.

    It remains to be seen whether other movies currently slated for theatrical release this summer, like Disney’s live-action Mulan, will follow in Tenet’s footsteps. Either way, it will take a lot of time, some box office gambles and perhaps even a vaccine before enough fans are comfortable sitting in a darkened room alongside hundreds of strangers to laugh and gasp in unison—or even just breathe the same air.


    In the meantime, as fans continue to get their movie fix largely on the small screen, here’s what the blockbuster season that never was has taught us about what the future of movies may have in store.

    There was never going to be one film that saved the moviegoing experience


    John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in Tenet Warner Bros.

    The narrative that played out around Tenet, and Nolan’s insistence that it be released in theaters this summer, felt like a Hollywood fantasy itself. The trades positioned Nolan as if he were the hero in one of his own films, the man who would swoop in and save the day.

    The obsession with a Nolan movie, specifically, was not arbitrary: Nolan is one of the few—if not the only—directors left in Hollywood who can conjure superhero-level box office numbers with a totally original film that’s not tied to a franchise, comic book or cinematic universe. His movies are big, expensive, immersive experiences best seen in IMAX the weekend of release, lest someone spoil the big plot twist in your social media feed.

    Even before the pandemic, Tenet represented the last hopes of a Hollywood largely lost to the franchise era, a remnant of the days when original dramas could vie for Oscars and break the box office at once. If, against all odds, Tenet succeeded during the pandemic, Hollywood could declare victory over the existential threat the virus poses, over the streaming services competing for audience attention, over the notion that screenwriters had run out of new ideas.

    If all this sounds rather farfetched, let’s cut ourselves a break. It is tempting in these dreary times to pin our hopes on a single solution to an intractable problem: one leader who might save us; one vaccine that might inoculate us; one day when suddenly everything will be back to normal. In reality, the return to normalcy will be slow and halting. Even once a vaccine becomes available, not everyone will receive it at once; we will return to our offices, our friends’ homes and, yes, movie theaters in small groups, then larger ones. Appealing as it was to cling to a symbol of resilience and the shared, communal experiences we yearn for, it was never that simple.

    Movie theaters need ongoing systemic support, not a miracle


    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on June 26, 2018 in Denver, Colorado Amy Brothers—The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Movie theaters are in dire straits. Even the biggest chains may possibly go bankrupt. They were struggling even before the pandemic: Why spend money on movie tickets, snacks and parking when you can just fire up Netflix from the comfort of your couch for around the cost of a single movie ticket?

    It’s going to take more than a movie like Tenet to help the industry survive and thrive. Movie theaters, like many other types of businesses, are in a desperate situation. The major chains have laid off tens of thousands of employees. Groups of theaters have sued the New Jersey Governor and the Michigan Governor for the right to reopen. Meanwhile, it is looking unlikely that theaters will be able to reopen in two of America’s biggest markets, New York and Los Angeles, in August, as originally planned. Movie theaters will continue to need government aid and local support during the pandemic—they have benefitted from the $2 trillion stimulus package passed in March. And indie theaters will need even more to make it through this unprecedented time.
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    continued from previous post

    Nobody wins in the standoff between studios and Netflix


    Charlize Theron in The Old Guard Aimee Spinks—NETFLIX

    If you feel like the content released during the pandemic has been subpar, you’re not imagining things.

    The pandemic has only accelerated the ascendance of streamers in Hollywood. Studios are worried that even after the pandemic ends, audiences will have gotten so used to having decent, new content served up to them at home that they won’t bother heading to the movie theater. As a result, studios have been hoarding their biggest films rather than releasing them on Hulu, Netflix or video-on-demand services. Why would they charge a family of four $20 to rent a movie on Apple now when they can charge that family of four $20 per person to see that same movie in IMAX at a later date?

    We as consumers are left with a mixed bag of streaming content and too few of the kinds of water-cooler movies that kickstart shared cultural conversations. Netflix has invested heavily in action movies like The Old Guard (released in July) and Spenser Confidential (released back in March), but they spend less money making those movies than Warner Bros and Disney do on the biggest blockbusters of the year, and it often shows. That is not to say that spending more money on a movie guarantees quality—just look at box office bombs like Dark Phoenix or Dolittle—but many critics have observed that the most-watched Netflix movies feel thin, and not quite like replacements for the big summer blockbusters. Fans agree: A 2018 study from Barclays found that audiences reported the quality of Netflix movies “meaningfully worse” than most studio releases.

    Of course, these studios’ strategy is contingent upon the idea that Hollywood will be able to release the movies they’re holding back in theaters sometime this year or early next year. And the truth is, we have no idea when we’ll be able to return to public spaces like theaters. Polls conducted in the spring suggested that many consumers won’t be willing to risk leaving theaters for awhile, even if it means waiting a long time to see splashy releases like Mulan.

    Hollywood may be too dependent on big blockbuster movies


    Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff in Captain America: Civil War Zade Rosenthal—Marvel Studios

    While I would never suggest that Tenet be released straight to streaming—that is a film intended to be enjoyed with a large audience—maybe this is the moment for Hollywood to reconsider its priorities.

    Right now, studios tend to focus onn big-budget superhero films or horror films with tiny budgets that can turn a nice profit. Comparatively few mid-budget comedies or dramas even get greenlit. But those are exactly the types of films suited to streaming. Even if streaming movies on the whole still don’t measure up to theatrical releases, services like Netflix and Hulu have found niches in specific genres that big, older Hollywood studios have abandoned, like rom-coms and serious, mid-budget dramas.

    Maybe if traditional studios had invested in more movies like Hulu’s Palm Springs or Netflix’s Da 5 Bloods, they could be competing with Netflix by releasing them to the streaming market instead of sitting on the Black Widows and Top Gun 2s until the world changes.

    The moviegoing experience is not going to become obsolete


    Death-defying: Cruise in Mission: Impossible—Fallout Paramount

    There is some good news buried in this rather depressing update. The hype around Tenet suggests that people do desperately miss the summer blockbuster experience, and it will not disappear.

    Lately, I have been thinking a lot about some of the best memories I have in movie theaters—the moment when an IMAX audience lost its collective minds when a certain character in Mission Impossible: Fallout got struck by lightning; or the guy who just kept repeatedly screaming “hell yes” as Vin Diesel and his crew dragged a massive safe through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in Fast Five; or how the audience I saw Get Out with were on their feet cheering during the finale of that film.

    We will have that experience again—even if Tom Cruise has to personally build an isolated town for an entire film crew to do so. It may be when Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie No Time to Die drops in November. It may be when Fast & Furious 9 premieres next spring. It may be even later than that. Theaters will be implementing a lot of changes to try to stay afloat in the interim, like reducing capacity or not allowing moviegoers to order food during a film. But—assuming enough is done to keep them afloat before that time—pent-up demand for a fun night at the movies will buoy struggling theaters when things finally do begin to change for the better.
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