As health officials urged social distancing to quell the tide of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the overall North American box office plummeted 40% from last weekend with several high-profile movies being rescheduled, in some cases indefinitely.
This weekend, the domestic box office earned an estimated $55.3 million, a low not seen since 2000 when holdover “The Watcher” dominated the mid-September box office and overall domestic grosses amounted to just $54.5 million.
AMC, Regal and several other chains announced Friday that they would be cutting theater capacity by 50% to address safety concerns by allowing individuals to sit next to empty seats. Roughly 84 theaters across Canada and the U.S. have shuttered altogether.
“This was naturally going to be a low-grossing weekend in theaters given capacity reductions to honor social distancing guidelines, no major new mega-blockbuster releases and of course an overall sense of uncertainty in the marketplace,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at measurement firm Comscore.
“Movie theaters are trying to balance the desire of their patrons to go to the movies while providing a safe and healthy environment for customers and employees. It’s clear that this situation is having an unprecedented effect on all businesses, but down the road we will likely see a strong surge for all kinds of outside the home activities and moviegoing in particular.”
Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” maintained the top spot on Sunday, adding $10.5 million in its second showing (a steep 73% drop) for a cumulative $60.3 million, according to estimates from Comscore. Internationally, the film added $6.8 million across 47 markets for a worldwide cumulative of $101.7 million.
Late last week, the studio postponed the releases of three hotly anticipated films, “Mulan,” “The New Mutants” and “Antlers” because of coronavirus concerns. Alongside Disney, several other studios took measures to move or postpone their highest-profile spring blockbusters including MGM’s James Bond film “No Time to Die,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Universal’s “F9.”
The weekend’s top new release, Lionsgate’s faith-based drama “I Still Believe” opened in second place with $9.5 million, the rare film to debut within range of analyst projections this weekend.
The film, based on true events, features “Riverdale” actor KJ Apa as Christian singer Jeremy Camp, whose first wife (played by Britt Robertson) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer early in their marriage. Directed by siblings Andrew and Jon Erwin (“I Can Only Imagine”), it is the first film to be released through their Kingdom Story Co.
It received a mixed reception with an A CinemaScore and a 40% “rotten” rating from review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
At No. 3, Sony’s Vin Diesel superhero picture “Bloodshot” opened with $9.3 million, slightly under analyst projections of $10 million. The $45-million movie received a B CinemaScore and a 31% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes.
In fourth place, Universal’s “The Invisible Man” added $6 million in its third weekend for a cumulative $64.4 million. Internationally it earned $6.2 million for a worldwide cumulative of $122.7 million.
Rounding out the top five, the studio’s “The Hunt” opened with $5.3 million, well below analyst projections of $8 million to $9 million. Internationally the film earned under $1 million across four territories for a global cumulative of $6 million.
The $14-million political satire, which was delayed in September amid controversy following a series of mass shootings and only recently rescheduled, follows a group of liberals who hunt conservatives for sport. It was poorly received with a C+ CinemaScore and a 54% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes.
At No. 6, Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” added $2.6 million in its fifth weekend for a cumulative $145.8 million.
In seventh place, Warner Bros.’ “The Way Back” added $2.4 million in its second weekend (a huge 70% drop) for a cumulative $13.4 million.
At No. 8, 20th Century Studios’ “The Call of the Wild” added $2.2 million in its fourth weekend for a cumulative $62.1 million.
In ninth place, Focus Features’ “Emma” added $1.4 million in its fourth weekend for a cumulative $10 million. Internationally the film earned less than half a million dollars across 31 territories for a worldwide total of $25.1 million.
Rounding out the top 10, Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” added $1.1 million in its ninth weekend for a cumulative $204.3 million.
In limited release, Elevation released the Dave Bautista action comedy “My Spy” in 251 Canadian locations to $280,000 for a per-screen average of $1,115. It was poorly received with a 44% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently scheduled to open in the U.S. on April 17.
Focus Features’ “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” opened in four locations to $18,000 for a per-screen average of $4,601. It was positively received with a 99% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.
101 Studios expanded “Burden” from 31 locations to 109 to $46,536 for a per-screen average of $427 and a cumulative $133,922. Searchlight expanded “Wendy” into 165 locations (up from 69 last weekend) to $44,000 for a per-screen average of $267 and a cumulative $142,367.
No wide releases are scheduled for release until Universal plans to open the animated sequel “Trolls World Tour” on April 10, the date vacated by the James Bond adventure “No Time to Die.”