Chinese customers now can order classic theater popcorn combos on Alibaba’s food delivery platform Ele.me, after Alibaba Pictures has partnered with over 20 cinema companies to support theaters to sell unsold snacks and beverages online.
Alibaba Pictures, the filmmaking and entertainment arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced Wednesday that it will cooperate with several major cinema operators, including Wanda, Jinyi, and Sunning. Alibaba Pictures expects the initiative, which is currently only available in some cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, to cover more than one thousand cinemas across the country.
The move comes at a time when cinemas are suffering from increasingly tight cash flow, as most theaters in China remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a Bloomberg report, the losses from the collapse of ticket sales in 2020 have amounted to USD 1 billion, citing estimates by Rance Pow, the CEO of cinema industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway. Although revenue from popcorn and soda sold online might be small compared to cinemas’ high rent and salary costs, the move could help theaters keep their operations running during this particular time.
Alibaba Pictures has also been hurt by the coronavirus, as some films it has invested have been delayed indefinitely.
Local governments are also stepping up to help. Recently, China’s southeastern Zhejiang province, known as “China’s Hollywood”, has promised to speed up the approval process for films and TV dramas, and it will allocate RMB 10 million to theaters which had huge losses during this period. The Shanghai government also took similar actions, announcing it will give subsidies to cinemas and production companies, Xinhua reported.