Box office plunges amid coronavirus to lowest level in over two decades

Box office plunges to lowest level in over two decades amid coronavirus

Much of public life in america essentially ground to a halt this week. In the entertainment world, theme parks shut down, Broadway went dark, studios pulled significant tentpoles in their release calendar, as coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across North America and all Hollywood movies and TV shows halted production.

The exhibition business, a sector of the film business reliant on the experience, has been the one institution reluctant to close its doors amid the public heath crisis that is ongoing. Prior to Friday, fears of this pandemic didn’t appear to impact moviegoing. But this weekend’s box office results reveal that people are visiting their local multiplexes.

Ticket sales in North America reach the lowest levels in over two decades, generating roughly $55.3 million between Friday and Sunday.

Box office figures dropped 45 percent from last weekend while just one movie, Disney-Pixar’s”Onward,” made more than $10 million on the three-day stretch. The year-to-date box office was pushed on by the steep decline down nearly 9%, according to Comscore.

Domestic receipts were going to plummet this weekend because AMC and Regal, a couple of a lot of other circuits such as Arclight and Alamo Drafthouse, and the movie theater chains, cut capacity in individual auditoriums by 50 percent to avoid crowding in wake of the pandemic. Reducing the amount of tickets sold per theater helped multiplexes comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for”social distancing.” Theaters also kept room between seats and rows to make sure patrons had considerable space.

In all ticket sales were a combination of audiences staying home and theaters capping seating capacity.

“The effect of this unprecedented situation was evident across many industries,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “Of course, movie theaters, amidst reduced capacity and an ever-evolving set of circumstances, had a very challenging weekend.”

Last weekend’s winner”Onward” remained the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office, as three new films opened to varying degrees of disappointment. “Onward” pulled in $10.5 million in its second outing, a brutal 73% decline from its inaugural weekend. To compare,”The fantastic Dinosaur,” one of Pixar’s lowest grossing movies, dropped 60 percent in its second frame. After two weeks of release, the animated fantasy adventure”Onward” has made $60.8 million in North America and $101 million globally.

Faith-based play”I Still Believe,” from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, pulled in the biggest haul among novices and placed second on box office charts. The film, starring KJ Apa as Christian singer Jeremy Camp, earned $9.5 million from 3,250 theaters, slightly below expectations. “I Still Believe” was directed by brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin, whose last collaboration, 2018’s”I Can Only Imagine,” debuted to $17 million and ended up grossing $86 million. “I Still Believe” has an”A” CinemaScore and is doing strongest in the south and midwest. Among opening weekend crowds, 74% were female and 73 percent were over age 25.

Sony’s superhero thriller”Bloodshot,” starring Vin Diesel, launched at No. 3, earning $9.3 million in 2,861 venues. Though slightly behind the projections of the studio, it’s still a disappointing result. Overseas, the film brought in an additional $13 million this weekend, boosting its global haul to $24.4 million.

Diesel has had trouble attracting crowds to non-“Fast and Furious” endeavors, although in this instance, the virus certainly didn’t help draw ticket buyers.

Getty Images

“The Hunt,” an R-rated political satire from Universal and Blumhouse, came in fifth place with $5.3 million in 3,028 places, about half what was expected heading into the weekend. It carries a $14 million price tag. “The Hunt” had become the subject of controversy as it was originally slated for last September. But Universal ended up canceling its release in media scrutiny after it was criticized by President Donald Trump on Twitter, in addition to wake of three mass shootings. The film, meant to poke fun at the split between blue and red states, follows elites who kidnap and prey on Americans for game. In an early trailer, those being hunted were known as”deplorables.” Universal then set a new release date and turned the turmoil into a promotion play, calling it the”most talked about movie of the year that nobody has ever seen… yet.” However, as soon as moviegoers did watch”The Hunt,” they seemed somewhat apathetic. It’s a”C+” CinemaScore and a 54% average on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Elisabeth Moss-led sci-fi thriller generated $6 million, enough for the No. 4 spot. So far,”The Invisible Man” has a cumulative tally of $64.4 million in the U.S. and Canada and $122 million worldwide.

Though theaters in North America remain open to other regions greatly affected by coronavirus, China, South Korea, Italy and some degree have either partially or completely have multiplexes for months. The closures have already resulted in billions of dollars in earnings.

In light of concerns over coronavirus, exhibitors in the U.S. that remained open for business took additional precautions to improve sanitation. That included sterilizing cup holders, arm rests and seats and disinfecting all surfaces that were hand-contact during peak times.

Studio executives and media analysts recognize the international box office is in uncharted territory. By last Thursday, most major Hollywood films which were set to hit theaters during the next two months — including Disney’s”Mulan,” Paramount’s”A Quiet Place Part II,” Universal’s”Quick 9″ and MGM’s”No Time to Die” — had been removed from release calendars as the virus’s infection rate continues to increase. That means the volume of content available will have dramatically shrunk, even if the lights are kept by theaters on.

Many remain optimistic that the movie business will have the ability to rebound.

“These are unique conditions,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “But without a doubt, we’ll get to the other side. The box office will return, just nobody has a real answer as to when.”

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50 comments

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