China's State film bureau announced in a statement that Smart Cinema, a new Chinese mobile app that claims to be licensed to stream films at the same time they debut in cinemas, "does not have the qualifications to release video and audio content (including movies) online," according to a China Film News report on Saturday.
First launched on Wednesday, the app claimed to be the first platform authorized to release films simultaneously with cinemas. According to a report from Beijing Youth Daily on Friday, the app advertized that users could watch one film for 25 yuan ($4), and that the money would be counted as part of the films' total box office.
The app boasts on its promotional page that it obtained the official license rights to release the films. There are still two films, Dude's Manual and Hong Kong Rescue, available on the app as of the writing of this article.
Smart Cinema's debut sparked wide discussion among Chinese film industry insiders about the future of watching film in China.
Even though many Chinese online streaming platforms also stream films, there is usually a three-month delay before a film becomes available.