March 20, 2020
With most movie theaters shuttered due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures say they are suspending reporting box office results. The move comes after domestic weekend ticket sales plummeted to a 20-year low and most screens around the world remain closed.
While Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and other studios have not yet announced similar actions, they are expected to follow suit.
The move late March 19 by Universal and Disney comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered state residents to remain at home as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 10,000 people globally. The United States saw COVID-19 infections more than double on Thursday.
“Given the current large number of theater shutdowns around the globe, Disney will suspend global weekend reporting for the time being. Wishing you and your families the best during these testing times and please be safe,” Disney said in a media statement.
Media analyst Michael Pachter downgraded AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest exhibitor with more than 1,000 theatres, to “neutral” rating heading into the weekend.
“If closures last longer than we estimate, AMC would need additional relief from either government assistance, rent relief from landlords, or additional sources of cash in order to avoid a potential breach of debt covenants, which could force debt restructuring,” Pachter wrote in a March 20 note.