Bomb Cyclone Forces Theater Closures: How Will It Impact Weekend Box Office?


The “bomb cyclone” is taking its toll on the Northeast with whiteout conditions in New York City and tidal levels in Boston at all-time records not seen since the Blizzard of 1978. Yes, water is literally pouring over the Long Wharf into the streets. Bean Town will see a foot to foot and-a-half of snow. Islip, NY will see just over a foot.

Meanwhile, a number of AMC theaters are closing including those in Freehold, NJ, AMC Roosevelt in Garden City, the Stony Brook, the Raceway 10 in Westbury, NY as well as Connecticut locations in Londonderry, Torrington, and Bloomfield. Several locations are delaying their openings until as late at 4 PM or 6 PM today.

The last time the Northeast was in a record deep-freeze was with Snowstorm Jonas which took the air out of the Jan. 22-24, 2016 box office with none of the wide entries (Dirty Grandpa, The Boy, The 5th Wave) able to click past the $12M mark. The top grossing title at No. 1 was The Revenant with $16M in weekend 5.

Despite the multiplex closures, distribution executives aren’t fretting, confident that business will really return to normal by tomorrow. New York City is expected to be at full strength throughout the weekend since folks can ride the subway. Worst case scenario if the snow isn’t cleared in certain locations by Saturday and Sunday is that the weekend’s overall ticket sales will be dinged by -10%.

Even though we’re past Christmas and New Year’s Day, holdovers from the holidays are expected to continue to rally with 40% K-12 off and 87% colleges according to ComScore. Three movies are expected to earn north of $20M: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Universal/Blumhouse’s new entry Insidious: The Last Key.

Beyond the movie theater closings, the storm did not bring New York-based entertainment to a crawl. The Broadway League confirmed at 3PM ET that all shows would go on as usual, as did late-night tapings and anything not being shot on the blizzard-swept streets. While flights in and out of the city stopped for a time, threatening the exodus of talent and execs headed to CES, the Golden Globes and TCA (FX declined comment on a report that it charted a flight for the stars of The Americans to fly to L.A. for their press tour panel set for Friday), airports are reopening and the forecast calls for chilly temperatures but no more snow.

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