After Coronavirus, Movie Theaters in China Turn to ‘Avengers,’ ‘Avatar’ to Bring Audiences Back

China is trying to kick its movie business back into high gear.

As the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep the globe, authorities and elected officials advised citizens to avoid large groups. So little by little, businesses began to — at least temporarily — shutter. Self-quarantining and social distancing became the new buzz terms. And the world essentially hit pause on business as usual.

Of course, this approach extended to the entertainment industry. After all, the business revolves around delighting mass audiences. Concert tours, film festivals, and the like began to get pushed or altogether canceled. Then, as studios pushed one anticipated film after another, movie theaters themselves closed up.

Now, with coronavirus receding in China, the nation is preparing to reopen its theaters with a very specific plan to boost attendance.

'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' marquee display
‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ marquee display | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

China will re-release select hits as theaters reopen

In the United States, leading movie theater chains AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas only closed all their locations in mid-March 2020. So it is still early days as far as the coronavirus is concerned domestically. But China first began to show signs of the outbreak in December 2019. So the nation is months ahead of the U.S. side of the pandemic.

With the coronavirus epidemic largely contained, China is attempting to jumpstart its film industry now. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the nation is looking to reopen between 600 and 700 movie theaters. And it’s relying on one of the biggest film series in history, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to help get theaters back on their feet.

But Chinese theaters aren’t releasing the entire 23-film MCU to theaters. Rather, they are focusing on the heavy-hitters: the four Avengers films. This makes complete sense, seeing as these are Marvel’s highest-grossing films at the worldwide box office. If the Chinese market hopes to inspire audiences to head back to theaters, Avengers: Endgame is a good start.

The ‘Avengers’ movies aren’t the only hits China will re-release

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes won’t be the only ones spearheading the (hopefully) triumphant return of movie theaters in China. Some other big movies from the late 2000s and 2010s are set to return as well. These reportedly include James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar and a pair of movies from director Christopher Nolan, 2010’s Inception and 2014’s Interstellar.

Although all of the above films are huge hits, Avengers: Endgame and Avatar are notably still the two biggest movies of all time. They’ve each earned roughly $2.8 billion at the worldwide box office. The rerelease of Avatar could also help prepare audiences for Cameron’s upcoming sequels, the first of which is set for release in December 2021. With this box office boost, Avatar could even reclaim its title as the biggest worldwide release ever.

At this point, none of the above films have confirmed release dates, however. Still, such crowdpleasers could go a long way in easing moviegoers’ worry about returning to theaters after such a devastating medical crisis. But the purpose is two-fold, as China needs to court studios back into marketing and releasing upcoming films to the nation soon.

When will movie theaters reopen in the United States?

We’d prefer to speculate whether movie theaters in the United States will take a similar approach when the coronavirus pandemic is under control. However, with domestic movie theaters already struggling, the better question is when or even if things will ever get back to normal.

This months-long sabbatical from new releases has already caused significant damage to the entertainment industry. But theaters — especially smaller ones — are perhaps taking the hardest hit. We can only hope that they’ll be ready for crowds to pour back in when the time is right.