CFF reporting back from the #CJCinemaSummit




CFF reporting back from the #CJCinemaSummit


Celluloid Junkie, Filmgrail and The Big Picture have come together to form a free and open online forum with regular updates for the global cinema industry, as it faces the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

The first summit, on 19th March, hosted by Patrick von Sychowski, Editor of Celluloid Junkie and Chairman of #CinemaSummit made it clear the situation for the global cinema industry was bleak. More than two thirds of cinemas globally had closed, with many facing huge financial implications and losses. There was a feeling of frustration among UK attendees at the UK government not enforcing mandatory closures which could allow insurance claims for some.

Film production and post production had effectively stopped, with Minions 2, Matrix 4 and Avatar 2 affected, and leaving many films without a release date such as The New Mutants. Universal were the first to announce delays, with No Time To Die moved to November 2020, and Fast and Furious 9 to 2021. No films are expected to be released between now and the end of May/June, leaving a potential log jam of films waiting for release. With a similar gap in productions, however, there’s hope that these will match up. 

Universal was the first studio to move to premium video on demand, with Trolls 2 skipping the theatrical window and moving straight to digital release. Invisible man, The Hunt,and Emma join the list of films to be streamed. Other studios are also experimenting with digital release – Disney Plus are offering Frozen 2 earlier, and Star Wars on DVD sooner. Warner Bros are offering Harley quinn: Birds of Prey for pay per view.


There are fears amongst the industry that this could be a permanent change, with some suggesting Universal are possibly using the Covid 19 crisis to push their own agenda. Other studios, however, such as Sony, are promising to honour the theatrical window in the future.Warner Bros are offering cinemas 100% of box office and low ticket prices to encourage cinema goers back after the crisis, with Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings being considered for re-release. 

With an eye to the future, the summit heard from Doctor Hiu Man Chan, reporting on the situation in China as it moves towards the re-opening phase. Chinese cinemas are experiencing programming issues due to both a lack of content available and ethical issues, screening only domestic titles with ‘a strong Chinese ideology’ to begin with. Doctor Hiu explained the difficulty of re-establishing confidence for customers and staff, and that Covid 19 will not just disappear. 

We can watch and learn from China, and plan how we can encourage confidence amongst our audiences in the future. It’s clear that there are long term implications for the future of cinema, and we need to be planning how we can introduce social distancing even as we move towards the re-opening phase.  

Thursday 26th March saw the second #CJCinemaSummit, bringing together 674 delegates from over 50 countries to support each other through these turbulent times. We heard from two leading cinema CEOs, Debbie Stanford- Kristiansen, Chief Executive office of Novo Cinemas and Mariam el Bacha, Chief Executive Officer of Cinepax, Pakistan on the challenges they face retaining and supporting their workforce. 


Special guest Andrew Cripps, president of international theatrical distribution at Warner Bros. studios, offered reassurance, confirming that Warner Bros. will honour the theatrical window – Wonderwoman 1984, for example has been re-dated for August 2020 – and continue to support cinemas once the Covid 19 threat is over. 

It’s clear the industry is in real trouble with widespread cinema closures globally, resulting in huge job losses. US company AMC Entertainment announced 26,000 job closures this week, 96% of its labour force. We heard from Latin America where cinemas in areas free of the Coronavirus are closing due to a lack of content, raising the issue of when things would return to normality, given the potential gap in content ready for release. Current estimates suggest the release schedule may be affected for up to two years.

In more positive news, China is beginning to reopen its cinemas with 500 screens now active in outlying areas. Ticket sales are low, however, at 17,000, but expected to grow. Chinese cinemas are screening domestic titles, the Harry Potter series, and re-releases such as The Green Book

Register here for the next summit:

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