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German cinemas hoping for an end-of-year holiday treat instead received the equivalent of lump of coal this week as the government extended COVID-19 lockdown measures that will keep theaters closed until at least Jan. 10.
Germany went into a second partial lockdown in November in response to rising rates of coronavirus infection. The lockdown — which applies to restaurants, bars, and public entertainment venues such as cinemas, clubs, and concert halls, but not most other shops —was initially set to lift Dec. 1. German chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives of Germany’s state governments first pushed the re-opening date back to Dec. 20 and, in an announcement Wednesday night, further extended the lockdown measures to Jan. 10.
Merkel and state authorities will meet again Jan. 4 to reassess the situation.
The shutdown means local cinemas and distributors will have to scramble to reschedule releases. Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984, the only big studio title still left on the schedule for this year, was set to bow in German theaters Dec. 23. In the U.S., Warners are doing a joint theatrical and streaming release for the title, releasing the film simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming platform HBO Max. They won’t have that option in Germany, since HBO Max is not available there and Warners has yet to announce when it will be launching.
The lockdown extension could also impact the 2021 Berlin Film Festival, which is scheduled to run Feb. 11-21, 2021. Festival organizers say they are “watching the situation closely” but have not yet made a final decision. The European Film Market, which runs alongside the festival, is planning a hybrid physical/online event.
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