Just one week after most of China’s cinemas have been allowed to reopen box office earnings have reached about 109 million yuan (US$15.6 million) and the number of screenings has increased about tenfold, according to a new report, although streaming could still pose a longer term competitive threat to the industry. Cinemas in low-risk areas were allowed to reopen on July 20 after nearly six months of closures due to the coronavirus. By the week after, there were nearly 10 times more screenings and 45 per cent more cinemas have resumed work, according to the report on Monday by Maoyan Entertainment. “With cinemas offering low prices and high market demand, the film market will usher in recovery at a faster rate,” China’s largest movie tickets platform said in the report. Most cinemas are offering steep discounts to try to attract audiences back to theatres, according to Maoyan’s report, which showed that 96 per cent of the reopened theatres are offering tickets lower than last year’s average ticket price of 37.1 yuan, with most charging between 20 yuan to 30 yuan. They are not only competing with each other, but also with video streaming platforms which have gained a significant foothold with people staying home during the pandemic, threatening the future of the traditional film industry. Will streaming productions save theatres or kill them? Amid the closures, some production companies have opted to skip cinematic releases entirely and release their films online instead. For example, the highly anticipated holiday film Lost in Russia got an online-exclusive premiere in late January after selling the streaming rights to ByteDance for 630 million yuan. It was made available for free for a limited time on China’s version of TikTok, Douyin, after the film’s theatre screenings were cancelled. According to a Sensor Tower report on Monday, Chinese video streaming apps such as iQiyi, Tencent Video, and Bilibili were among the top 10 downloaded apps in Apple’s app store in June. Still, one analyst says he believes people will eventually return to cinemas as they offer a different experience from streaming on smaller screens. “Big movies with huge investments will still have a theatrical release in the future,” said Zhang Dingding, an internet industry commentator and former head of Beijing-based research firm Sootoo Institute. “The sound and the visual effects in the cinema are different [from what you get from your computer].” The proliferation of movie-related internet services could in fact bolster traditional movie markets, Zhang said. In its circular earlier this month announcing that cinemas would be allowed to reopen in low-risk areas, the China Film Administration said tickets must be booked online as part of pandemic control measures. Customers can also make more informed decisions by reading movie reviews online before deciding whether they want to head out to physical theatres, Zhang added.