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Box office: ‘Onward’ opens at No. 1 amid coronavirus public safety concerns

Pixar’s “Onward”
A scene from “Onward.”
(Disney / Pixar)

Amid mounting coronavirus fears, which led to the unprecedented cancellation of the South by Southwest festival on Friday, enough moviegoers turned out to see “Onward” to make the Disney-Pixar film tops at the box office. Still, the film opened with $40 million, which was on the low end of analyst projections of $40 million to $45 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Despite worries that the virus might affect moviegoing, the overall domestic gross was up 4% over last weekend, with most other films meeting or slightly exceeding expectations. The year-to-date box office, however, fell 1.9% behind 2019, due to the blockbuster success last year of “Captain Marvel,” which earned $153.4 million over the same weekend.

“Onward” features the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, who play a pair of teenage elf brothers determined to resurrect their late father. It was positively received with an A- CinemaScore and a 86% “fresh” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

The film’s performance is comparable to that of fellow Pixar title “The Good Dinosaur,” which opened in 2015 with $39 million on its way to $332 million in global box office grosses, the lowest of the studio’s 21 titles. “Onward” is also the first Pixar movie to debut in early spring; other Pixar titles have opened in either the summer or November.

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The film’s international rollout excluded Italy, South Korea and China, where the coronavirus outbreak has hit the hardest. It was also banned in several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to a lesbian relationship. Among the 47 international territories where it was released, it earned $28 million in ticket sales for a global debut of $68 million, modest by Disney’s standards.

In second place, Universal’s “The Invisible Man” added $15.2 million in its second weekend (a 46% drop) for a cumulative $52.7 million. Globally, the film has earned $98.3 million.

Coming in third, Warner Bros.’ sports drama “The Way Back” opened with $8.5 million. The film stars Ben Affleck as an alcoholic construction worker turned high school basketball coach and was positively received with a B+ CinemaScore and an 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In fourth place, Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” added $8 million in its fourth weekend for a cumulative $140.8 million. The film currently stands at $295.6 million in worldwide receipts.

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Rounding out the top five, 20th Century Studios’ “The Call of the Wild” added $7 million in its third weekend for a cumulative $57.5 million. Globally, the film has earned $99.6 million.

At No. 6, Focus Features’ “Emma” expanded into wide release in its third weekend, adding $5 million for a cumulative $6.9 million. It received a B CinemaScore and an 85% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Globally, the film has earned $20.9 million.

In seventh place, Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” added $3 million in its eighth weekend and crossed the $200-million mark with a cumulative of $202 million.

At No. 8, Warner Bros.’ “Birds of Prey” added $2.2 million in its fifth weekend for a cumulative $82.6 million.

In ninth place, TruTV’s “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” added $1.8 million in its third weekend for a cumulative $8.5 million.

Rounding out the top 10, Sony and Funimation’s “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” added $1.5 million in its second weekend (a 75% drop) for a cumulative $12.7 million.

In limited release, A24 opened “First Cow” on four screens to $96,059 for a per-screen average of $24,015. IFC Films’ “Swallow” opened in three locations to $14,100 for a per-screen average of $4,700.

Searchlight expanded “Wendy” into 69 locations (up from four in its debut last weekend) to $213,799 for a dismal per-screen average of $359 and a cumulative $244,874. 101 Studios’ “Burden” expanded into 31 locations (up from five in its debut last weekend) to $40,205 for a per-screen average of $1,297 and a cumulative $68,243.

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This week, Sony opens the action drama “Bloodshot,” Universal reveals the controversial political thriller “The Hunt” and Lionsgate premieres the music romance “I Still Believe.” In limited release, Focus Features opens “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.”


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