China’s largest cinema chain operator Wanda Film said on Tuesday it expects to report a net loss of 1.5 to 1.6 billion yuan ($214 to $228 million) in the first half of the year as COVID-19 forced it to shut down theaters.
In comparison, the company reported a net profit of 524 million yuan ($75 million) in the same period last year.
“Operating income dropped by a big margin compared with the same period last year,” the company said, blaming fixed costs such as salaries and rent.
China asked cinemas across the country to shut down in late January to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. While the epidemic is seen to be mostly under control in China, cinemas have not yet been allowed to open.
“All the more than 600 cinemas of Wanda Film in China have been closed since January 23, and the ones overseas also suspended business after the end of March,” Wanda Film said in its preliminary earnings estimate, filed with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
The company also cited postponed releases of movies it invested in, including Detective Chinatown 3, and the delayed shooting of TV dramas.
China is the second-largest film market in the world, after the United States. China’s box office took in a record 64.3 billion yuan in 2019, up 5.4 percent on year.
Prompted by expectations of the film industry reopening, the shares of Wanda Film have been on the rise for the past nine trading days, climbing 7.94 percent on Tuesday to 20.81 yuan per share at market’s close.