Two Chinese films that were set to open during the week-long Spring Festival holiday instead premiered online on streaming platforms amid an outbreak of a deadly coronavirus in the country.

Why it matters: Chinese streaming and gaming companies have received more traction as cinemas, along with other entertainment venues, were forced to close amid government calls for the public to remain sequestered indoors in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Details: “Enter the Fat Dragon,” a Hong Kong remake directed by Wong Jing, debuted on video streaming platforms iQiyi and Tencent Video on Saturday, two weeks ahead of its planned opening in theaters scheduled for Feb. 16.

  • Viewing the movie costs RMB 12 (around $1.70) on Tencent Video or iQiyi, or RMB 6 for Tencent Video subscribers.
  • The movie attracted a total of 61 million views on Tencent Video as of Monday including free trial views.
  • “Lost in Russia,” a Chinese movie scheduled to hit theaters on Jan. 25 also premiered online for free on the same day.
  • The movie, which is available on Bytedance platforms Xigua Video, Douyin, and Jinri Toutiao, amassed a total of 600 million views as of Jan. 27, according to the company (in Chinese).

Context: At least seven major film releases that were expected to dominate the holiday season were canceled because of a coronavirus outbreak in China which have killed more than 300 and sickened more than 17,000 as of Monday.

  • The deal to premiere Lost in Russia online has drawn ire from theater chains and studios, with some saying the decision was “trampling” and “destroying” China’s cinema industry.
  • Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, and a dozen other cities in the central Chinese province of Hubei are under a government-mandated lockdown.
  • The government has also called for people to stay indoors with many cities ordering entertainment venues, shopping malls, and tourist sites to shut down.

Wei Sheng

Writing about semiconductors and telecommunications.

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