Box Office Plummets Due to Coronavirus: Lowest Turnout in Over Two Decades
As citizens in the U.S. heed warnings to distance themselves from others to avoid contracting coronavirus, the movie industry took a hit over the weekend with record low box office sales.
In just one week, American life has already shifted dramatically—with the possibility of it changing even more—as we take precautions against the global pandemic that was declared a national emergency by the end of the week. Citizens are working from home if possible, schools are shutting down, and people are stocking up on supplies in preparation for the worst, such as a nationwide shutdown that major global economies such as Italy have already enforced.
Whether or not everyone is taking these fears or warnings to heart, daily life will be affected for all. In the entertainment world, theme parks have shut down, Broadway went dark, studios delayed film premieres, and virtually all Hollywood films and TV shows halted production as coronavirus continues to swiftly spread across the U.S.
As health experts advise people to practice “social distancing” by staying six feet away from others, it’s natural that people are avoiding places like movie theaters, with its close quarters with strangers for extended periods.
The weekly box office result this Sunday spoke for itself: ticket sales in North America hit the lowest levels in over two decades, with roughly $54 million over the weekend. Only one movie, Disney-Pixar’s Onward, made more than $10 million for the weekend, a significant drop in only its second week of release. The last time revenues were this low was a weekend in mid-September 2000 ($54.5 million).
This was partially due to movie theaters complying to the new health concerns as well: AMC and Regal, two of the biggest movie theater chains, and several others like Alamo Drafthouse and Arclight, cut capacity in individual auditoriums by 50% to avoid crowding. This was done by restricting seating in certain rows and seats to ensure patrons had ample space.
Other safety efforts include increased sanitation such as sterilizing seats, arm rests and cup holders more frequently and disinfecting all hand-contact surfaces during peak times.
Though most theaters in the U.S. remain open to some degree, China, South Korea, Italy and other areas greatly impacted by coronavirus have either completely or partially have closed theaters for weeks. This has already resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenues.
Additionally, with several high-profile films delaying their releases in the next two months due to coronavirus, U.S. theaters may have a limited crop of films to show, securing this decline in box office receipts indefinitely.