Coronavirus is hammering the global box office, but it could be much worse

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Movie ticket sales are cratering as theaters in the US and around the world close their doors or restrict capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic. The last time the US box office was this low on this particular March weekend was 1995, when, ironically, the highest-grossing movie was Outbreak, a film about the spread of a deadly virus through a California town.

Hollywood has already lost $7 billion, according to most estimates. It could lose another $10 billion over the next few months if theaters stay closed.

And it could still be so much worse.

The first quarter, running from January through the end of March, is typically the quietest time of the year for cinemas. It comes right after the holiday season, but before late spring and early summer when studios begin releasing some of their biggest blockbusters.

In 2019, Q1 accounted for just 14.8% of the total US box office—and that was a relatively good year for the January-to-March period. Over the last decade, Q1 has been responsible for only about 12% of the annual box office. Meanwhile, the second and third quarters, which together make up for the summer blockbuster season, can each account for more than a third of the annual box office. See more here.

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