According to The Hollywood Reporter, industry analysts pegged the hit could be as much as $7.85 billion ($US5 billion).
Among the biggest upcoming movies that could be affected are Disney’s live action Mulan remake, the next Bond instalment No Time To Die and Fast & Furious 9.
In China, the world’s second biggest movie market, all of its 70,000 cinemas have been closed since late January when the COVID-19 outbreak was first reported.
According to Comscore data quoted in Variety, China’s box office in January and February this year has totalled $US238 million compared to $US2.14 billion for same period in 2019. That equates to a revenue loss of $US1.91 billion.
China was a key market for Mulan, which cost a reported $US200 million to make, more than any of its other live action remakes. With a movie hewing closer to the Chinese legend of the female warrior than the 1998 animated version, Mulan was expected to generate impressive box office takings in China.
Mulan’s global release is at the end of this month, with no Chinese release date in sight.
Fast & Furious 9 was also expected to play big in China. The previous film in the franchise, The Fate of the Furious made $US392 million in China, accounting for almost a quarter of the movie’s $US1.23 billion global total, and dwarfing even the US box office of $US226 million.
Fast & Furious 9 has a May release in other territories, including Australia.
Hollywood movies that were due for release earlier this year have been postponed indefinitely, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Doolittle, 1917, Little Women and Jojo Rabbit.
South Korea, where cities are not locked down but have a high incidence rate of COVID-19, box office receipts have dropped sharply. THR cited a 80 per cent year-on-year plunge in South Korea this past weekend while for February, it’s down 70 per cent. One of its major cinema chains have halved the number of screenings.
In Japan, cinema chain Toho offered refunds to customers who had purchased advanced tickets, according to THR.
In Europe, a London media launch for streaming service Disney+ was cancelled after some attendees pulled out with companies restricting non-essential international business travel.
As soon as the Italian outbreak was made public, production on Mission Impossible 7, which was to shoot in Venice for two weeks, was halted.
Key publicity tours for blockbuster releases have been amended with No Time To Die cancelling stops in Asia while Disney-Pixar movie Onward had its Korean release pushed back, according to THR.
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A popular Bond fan site, MI6-HQ, called on No Time To Die distributors MGM and Universal to postpone the global release for Daniel Craig’s final Bond film, due for release late this month in the UK and early April in Australia.
“The health and wellbeing of fans around the world, and their families, is more important,” the site wrote. “We have all waited over four years for this film. Another few months will not damage the quality of the film and only help the box office.”
On the flip side, companies that cater to home entertainment such as Netflix could come out as winners as people stay home and bunker down.
Financial services firm MKM Partners identified Netflix as among a raft of companies that also included Amazon as being potential winners out of the virus, reported CNBC.
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