Coronavirus Fears Prompt Starz to Cancel SXSW Events, Lionsgate to Limit Activity

Starz is the latest entertainment company to pull out of the annual SXSW festival over coronavirus concerns, a source tells Variety, canceling its screening and activation for Cape Cod crime drama series “Hightown” and its featured session for “Power.”

There have thus far been 14 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in Texas. The premium cabler joins a growing number of Hollywood studios and tech giants that will not be going to Austin for the event — a list that includes Amazon Studios, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.

Lionsgate, Starz’s parent corporation, will not be withdrawing entirely, though it plans to restrict its presence at the festival. Lionsgate Home Entertainment is keeping screenings for films “The Quarry” and “Arkansas” on the schedule, but will not send staff or talent.

SXSW runs from March 13 through March 22.

Thriller “The Quarry,” based on a novel by Damon Galgut, stars Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon. There are three screenings scheduled between March 14 and March 19 at the festival.

“Arkansas,” featuring Liam Hemsworth, Vince Vaughn, Vivica A. Fox and John Malkovich, is based on the eponymous John Brandon novel and was directed by Clark Duke. The film is slated to screen at the Austin Convention Center the night of March 15.

WarnerMedia is also scaling back its presence at SXSW, cancelling public marketing activations but maintaining its discussion panels and screenings.

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