The coronavirus pandemic clobbered the film industry, restricting people from congregating in theaters, but IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond told FOX Business in an exclusive interview Tuesday that business has practically returned to normal in Asia.
Continue Reading Below
“Things have returned much faster than normal,” Gelfond told “The Claman Countdown.” “So in Asia in general, but China specifically, people are going to restaurants, they’re not wearing masks, and the movie business is really good.”
During the third quarter of 2020, Gelfond said IMAX was 100% recovered compared to 2019 and fourth-quarter earnings, even without Hollywood films, reached 75% recovery.
Warner Brothers' new “Wonder Woman 1984” film, set to hit American theaters Christmas Day, debuted worldwide this past weekend. According to Deadline, the superhero saga earned $5 million in IMAX showings, with $3.8 million coming from China’s 680 screens.
According to Gelfond, those numbers fom China made up 20% of the box office take on just 1% of all IMAX screens.
“When people can get out and people can socialize, they want to go back to some sort of normal life and I think they want to do things premium,” he said. “They want to enjoy it.”
Now that the pandemic has brought major Hollywood films to streaming services like HBO Max and Disney Plus, Gelfond said there’s a natural decline in box office traffic due in part to piracy. Once the pandemic runs its course in the U.S., as it appears to have in China, this at-home model “won’t make economic sense," he claimed.
"What [theaters] need to do is get open and make sure people feel safe going into theaters like they do in Asia," he suggested.