Box Office in the Age of Social Distancing

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, I mentioned that the fears over the Coronavirus had not seriously affected the movie business…yet.

This weekend’s disastrous top ten says otherwise.

Movie theaters across North America continued to operate at diminished capacity this weekend as numbers dropped to their lowest amounts in 21 years, and that was all due to the fears associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Granted, this week’s new offerings such as Bloodshot, I Still Believe and The Hunt were never going to be big hits no matter when they were released. But with some major chains cutting auditorium capacity by half and others simply closing down altogether, the new films -along with everything else in the market this weekend- were doomed.

How bad is it? Consider Disney/Pixar’s Onward. On the plus side, it remained the number one film in the country for a second straight week. The really bad news was that its business was down a horrific 73%. Still in 4,310 theaters for the time being –I would be stunned if allthe major theater chains didn’t start shuttering starting tomorrow-, Onward earned an estimated $10.53 million this weekend. The ten-day total for the film now stands at $60.3 million. At this point, who knows where its final numbers will end up.

Today’s “National Day of Prayer” didn’t stop, or seem to help, Lionsgate’s Christian drama I Still Believe from earning an estimated $9.5 million from 3,250 screens since Friday. As is the case with most of these faith-based features, the majority of the film’s ticket sales came from advanced church group purchases, mostly in the Midwest and the South. The rest of the weekend gross most likely came from sadomasochists across the country that needed an additional level of pain in their daily lives. Reviews -just like they were for every other Christian flick this side of Passion of the Christ- were awful for I Still Believe.

Speaking of painful, there was a new Vin Diesel film in theatres this weekend! With fans having to wait an entire year for the ninth Fast and Furious car porn epic, Diesel’s disciples were offered up Sony’s Bloodshotthis weekend.  The $45 million superhero flicklanded in third place with a less-than-super $9.3 million from 2,861 screens. Unsurprisingly, Bloodshot trashed by the nation’s critics. The low numbers for Bloodshot proves once again that if Vinny isn’t behind the wheel of a muscle car waxing poetic about family, no one goes to his films.

Universal’s The Invisible Man pulled in an additional $6 million in its third weekend on 3,636 screens to land in fourth place. Down 60%, The Invisible Man has brought in $64.4 million.

Another low-budget thriller from the Universal/Blumhouse assembly line, The Hunt, finally arrived in theaters on Friday after being delayed from last September. The latest take on The Most Dangerous Game started off its brief theatrical run Friday in 3,028 venues, where the most it could muster was a measly $5.3 million.

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) $2.5 million (-67%); $145.8 million
  2. The Way Back (Warner) $2.4 million (-70%); $13.4 million
  3. The Call of the Wild (Fox) $2.2 million (-67%); $62.1 million
  4. Emma (Focus) $1.37 million (-71%); $10 million
  5. Bad Boys For Life (Sony) $1.1. million (-64%); $204.2 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of…well…nothing. Literally. Stay safe, everyone. It’s times like these that home video libraries and streaming services were made for.

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