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APAC box office revenue drops 87.7% YOY in 2020 amid COVID-19

This article is part of a global monthly series on film revenue in different regions.

Asia-Pacific box office revenues fell 87.7% year over year in the first three months of 2020, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and OPUSData, as the coronavirus closed theaters and impacted release schedules.

China — which saw the greatest year-over-year fall with 97.4% — briefly saw a small number of theaters reopen in late March before they were ordered to shut again by the country's Film Bureau. Some operators tried to recover losses where possible by selling popcorn and concession inventory and by renting theaters for photo-shoots, South China Morning Post reported.

The number of movies released in the country in the first quarter halved year over year to 26 from 51, according to the data.

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Elsewhere in the region, March saw cinemas close due to the coronavirus, threatening otherwise solid first-quarter box office performances. In Australia, for example — where cinemas were forced to close mid-March — box office revenues were $69.16 million in January, falling to $3.77 million in March. Overall, the country saw box office revenue fall 31.5% to US$110.3 million in the first quarter. Movie releases in the country fell 14% year over year in the quarter.

South Korea's government refrained from ordering theaters to close nationwide, with companies closing sites in the worst impacted areas instead. The country's box office grossed US$139.5 million in the first quarter, down 65.3% year over year.

Japan saw box office revenue for the quarter decline 46.2% year over year to US$190.3 million. The country declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus in mid-April, which allows regional governments to tell people to stay at home.

Unsurprisingly, titles released before theaters were closed dominated box offices in the first quarter. Universal Pictures' scientific fiction thriller "Extinction," released in China Jan. 18, topped its box office with US$23.1 million, unchanged from end-February. South Korea saw domestic production "Namsaneui Bujangdeul," a political drama also known as "The Man Standing Next," continue its box office lead with US$34.8 million after its Jan. 22 release. The 2019 Oscar-winning black comedy and thriller "Gisaengchung," or "Parasite," has topped Japan's box office since its release there on Jan. 10. DreamWorks Animation LLC.'s epic war film "1917" continued to lead in Australia, where it was released on Jan. 10.

Action and adventure remains the most popular genre in Asia-Pacific.

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