March 16, 2020
As expected, the weekend domestic theatrical box office tanked as exhibitors limited seating capacity and local governments called for no large group gatherings in an effort to thwart the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
With studios scaling back new releases such as Disney’s Mulan and Paramount Pictures’ The Quiet Place Part II, among others, the North American box office tallied just $55.3 million — the worst total in nearly two decades, according to comScore.
For the second consecutive weekend the top-grossing title was Disney’s Onward with $10.5 million, which represented a 73% drop from the animated film’s original weekend release — the largest decline ever for a Pixar Animation movie.
Lionsgate’s faith-based I Still Believe was second with $9.5 million, followed by Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, starring Vin Diesel, which generated $9.3 million. Universal Pictures’ The Hunt grossed $5.3 million followed by the studio’s The Invisible Man.
While major exhibitor chains scale back operations, the virus pandemic is wreaking havoc for smaller independent theaters.
“There are a lot of independent theaters out there and we’ve got to worry about our landlords, we’ve got to worry about paying rent, paying employees, taxes,” Jeff Brein, who operates nine indie theaters in the Seattle area, told The Wall Street Journal. “It would be a horrible thing to come out of this thing on the other side and having lost a number of community-based small theaters that were unable to survive.”