If predicting box office openings wasn’t worse enough for the industry, the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has studios and exhibition at the edge of their seats as concerns swell about how bad the impact might be.
This weekend’s wide entries — Sony’s Vin Diesel movie Bloodshot, Lionsgate-Kingdom Story’s faith-based K.J. Apa movie I Still Believe and Blumhouse’s Blue State vs. Red State genre action pic The Hunt— aren’t expected to be a barometer of the overall health of the domestic box office. And all these numbers listed below should be taken with a grain of salt as we don’t know how local and state governments’ ordinances in the current climate could curb theatrical business. For example, in the wake of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s containment of New Rochelle, NY, the local Regal New Roc there saw a 32% decline in Tuesday’s business versus Monday as the venue remained open. Typically that locations posts a Tuesday that’s +10%-20% over Monday’s B.O.
The movie theaters in Santa Clara County, CA, where there’s a health ban restricting groups of 1,000 or more, remain open. That ruling pertains to people in a single room, and not a shopping mall, airport or space where people might be in transit according to National Association of Theater Owners of Nevada and California.
The only movie theater that we hear is closed in the U.S. is a small triplex outside of Seattle, WA where the state’s Governor Jay Inslee has announced bans of gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties through the end of March. All other movie theaters in Washington, which counts 366 coronavirus cases, remain open.
At present, Disney/Pixar’s animated feature Onward will continue to lead the box office with an ease in the 40% to 45% range for $21M-$23M second weekend. The pic missed both the industry and Disney’s Sunday AM projection of $40M with an actual of $39.1M. This resulted in the overall weekend for all titles according to ComScore to file in at $100.7M (still 1.2% ahead of the Feb. 28-March 1 weekend), as opposed to $103.4M. Overall, many attribute the downturn in Sunday’s business to Onward being an odd duck Pixar title, and the fact that there are few must-see movies on the marquee. Nonetheless, some smaller exhibitors are worried that the coronavirus could be slowly keeping people away.
Of the three wide entries, I Still Believe, is expected to do the best with $11M-$14M, with an eye on older women, specifically the Evangelical crowd. The faith-based movie from brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin follows the true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss. Box office analysts wouldn’t be shocked, should the marketplace remain healthy, if the movie overperforms. The Erwin’s 2018 faith-based feature, I Can Only Imagine, was originally expected to die in the low single digits, but was then powered by a heaven-sent $17.1M opening, and $83.5M final domestic box office. I Still Believe debuts exclusively on IMAX screens tonight at 7PM and segues to preview showtimes tomorrow night at 7PM on its way to 3,100 bookings by Friday. Rotten Tomatoes Score for I Still Believe is at 67% Certified Fresh.
Bloodshot and The Hunt are each looking to do between $8M-$11M, with an eye on older males. Vin Diesel’s latest will hope that under 25 fanboys show up and Hispanic crowds while The Hunt is squarely targeting over 25 guys.
Bloodshot, based on the Valiant Comics IP, follows Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a soldier recently killed in action and brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation. Though an unstoppable force, the corp has sway over his mind and his memories. Ray doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not, but he’s on a mission to find out. Hopefully moviegoers will be as well at the 2,800 locations that have booked the pic. Thursday shows start at 5pm at 2,500 theaters. The $45M David S.F. Wilson-directed feature was co-financed by Sony, Bona Film Group Co., LTD. and Cross Creek Pictures. Bloodshot will have access to PLF and Imax screens over the weekend. Bloodshot is injured with a 42% RT Score.
The Hunt, which was originally scheduled to open on Sept. 27 last year, was pulled off the schedule by Universal in August following a heightened streak of mass shootings. In turn, the movie’s spots, which follows Blue State rich liberals who hunt down Red State low-to-middle class people, stirred up a fierce reaction from right wing media and even caught the attention of President Donald Trump. At the time, many were pulled from a handful of cable outlets. Uni on the Tuesday following Oscar Sunday (Feb. 11) announced the pic’s new date with a satirical print/outdoor ad campaign “The Most Talked About Movie of the Year That No One’s Actually Seen”. The pic’s new trailer in its first day clocked 5M views and now counts over 35M views. GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin stars as one of those who is hunted down, eventually squaring off with the master mind of the whole psycho game, played by 2x Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Craig Zobel directs off a screenplay by Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof and his fellow collaborator Nick Cuse. The Hunt is pinged by a 52% RT Score.
On the specialty side, Focus Features has Eliza Hittman’s teenage drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, about a pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania who travel to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy, has a 100% RT score and will play at New York’s Angelika and Landmark W. 57, and LA’s Arclight Hollywood and Landmark.