World Box Office: The coronavirus impacts the box office in the US

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Once again, the coronavirus extended its lethal tentacles into the box office in the US and pretty much in every other market. It did it in ways significantly more dramatic than in the past few weeks, as the number of countries in a complete lockdown and where movie theaters were ordered to close their doors has increased: besides China, Italy, and South Korea, Spain, France are also closed for a total of 32 international markets. In the other 15 markets, the fear of the virus and of social gatherings kept people mostly at home without any restrictive orders.

In the US, major chains such as AMC, Regal, Cinemark have been operating at limited capacity, asking theatergoers to keep distances. More are expected to be closed by local authorities in the next few days, including all theaters in California and New York. And with so many theaters going dark and so many upcoming new releases being delayed, it’s easy to guess that box office revenues will only get worse in the next few weeks.

“As expected, this weekend was a tough one as many industries faced challenges”, says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. “And movie theaters, while appropriately reducing capacity, of course, saw the overall weekend box office fall to some of the lowest levels in years,” he said.

Actually, the US box office hit a 20 year low, with revenues of just $55 million: even the weekend after September 11 the numbers were higher. Pixar’s Onward fell 73% from last week, the biggest drop in the studio’s history, with receipts for just $10.5 million. Internationally, 47 markets generated just $6.8 million, for a cumulative so far just above the $100 million mark.

Among the new titles, I Still Believe managed to draw $9.5 million, almost half the number generated by the last film directed by the Erwin Brothers, I Can Only Imagine. But the faith-based movie, which earned an A Cinemascore from mostly evangelical audiences, managed to do pretty well in the South, in the Mid-West and in rural areas, where the spread of COVID-19 is still low.

Bloodshot earned third place in North America, with a modest $9.3 million. The new Vin Diesel action film generated $13 million overseas, for a total debut of $24.4 million against a reported production budget of $45 million. The next two spots in the US charts went to two films by Blumhouse and Universal: The Invisible Man and The Hunt. The first one had a 60% drop from its debut last week, for a domestic total of $64.4 million. Overseas, it made $6.2 million out of 65 markets, for a global total of $123 million: not so bad for a reported $7 million budget. The Hunt – a satirical thriller – opened to just $5.3 million.

The other films in the top 10 had to pay the price of being released in the uncertain times of the coronavirus and saw dramatic declines from the week before. Warner’s The Way Back, starring Ben Affleck as a basketball coach dealing with alcoholism and other demons, dropped over 70% and made just $2.4 million, for a domestic total of $13.5 million. Focus Features’s  Emma had a similar drop and on its second week of release generated $1.4 million.

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