Has the pandemic dimmed the houselights for good at American movie theaters? Stay-at-home orders, capacity limits and simple fear of the virus have kept cinema crowds away for nearly a year. So, too, have studio decisions to delay the release of anticipated blockbusters.

Last year, the North American box office declined to its lowest total since 1981 (when "Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the top draw). Now theaters are flirting with bankruptcy while hoping that they haven’t lost their fans forever.

The good news? The picture could hardly look more different in Asia. Although similar worries had plagued the region’s movie business at the start of the pandemic, audiences are now piling back into theaters and spurring record box-office hauls.