With our world changing in real-time as America grips with the coronavirus outbreak, movie theaters across America stand as the last line of entertainment to remain open, as theme parks, sports games, and events close down for indefinite amounts of time. Sources tell me that it will come down to local governments in regards to which cinemas remain open or closed. To date, the big three chains –AMC, Regal, and Cinemark– haven’t declared a nationwide shutdown.
What is shocking from a financial standpoint is that in the wake of a year that saw all movies theaters operating on all cylinders around the clock to deliver the biggest domestic opening in history with Avengers: Endgame ($357.1M), we could be poised to see the biggest drought at the box office in the wake of major studios pulling their big spring features A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan and F9. That said, depression and recessions have historically been rich times at the box office, and it will be interesting to see in the days to come whether audiences continuing to buck fears over the coronavirus and head out, or if demand and the exhibition infrastructure recedes. Reports abound of movie theaters publicizing their cleaning policies and chains like Alamo executing staggered seating like the cinemas in Spain (and what is expected in China).
Following the wave of yesterday’s release date changes, Thursday felt according to many like business as usual, though of course, not as robust as those Marches when there’s a Marvel movie like Black Panther or Captain Marvel in play.
Disney’s Onward among regular releases grossed an estimated $1.9M, down only 12%, bringing its first week total to $49.8M. The expectation is that the Pixar animated film will repeat No. 1 with a high teens take, maybe $20M. Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man posted $1.05M, -17% for a second week’s take of $20.8M, running total of $58.4M.
Again, this weekend’s wide entries were never expected to break out at the box office, even in a healthy market, but there was some business, though largely muted.
On the bright side, Sony/Bona Film/Cross Creek’s Bloodshot led all previews with $1.2M off previews that started at 5PM at 2,631 — a number that bests Vin Diesel’s 2015 The Last Witch Hunter ($525K) which went on to open to $10.8M. Industry estimates are in the $8M-$10M range for the Vin Diesel movie. Critics didn’t take to the feature adaptation of the Valiant Comics IP with a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Thursday night audiences were so-so at 3 stars for the PG-13 action pic and a 45% definite recommend. Men over 25 made a trip to this at 51% followed by 21% men under 25, 21% females under 25 and 6% females under 25. Diversity demos were 49% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 16% African American, and 9% Asian.
Lionsgate’s faith-based feature I Still Believe saw $780K at 283 IMAX locations on Wednesday and expanded Thursday night to previews at 2,600 locations.
Meanwhile, Blumhouse/Universal’s R-rated action genre feature The Hunt posted $435K at 2,200 theaters off 7PM shows.