Sunday AM final w/chart: Another 25 theaters closed overnight, raising the number to around 109, with some big circuits shuttering in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, and Seattle. The fear among distribution is that number will only grow into the week. Some of these closures are due to city ordinances, while others just can’t keep the lights on. There’s also erratic situations where some theaters closed for the day, and then re-opened today. That’s how crazy the business is at this time. Simultaneously, I’m told that the current closures aren’t in significant theaters, i.e. while most of San Francisco is closed, the two big gun venues there, the Metreon and the Century, remain open.
Comscore is calling the weekend at $55.3M, lower than the $58.5M we saw yesterday morning, and a 22-year low (updated), the last low being in 1998, the Oct. 30-Nov. 1 weekend when John Carpenter’s Vampires led all titles to $55.2M. Overall, this weekend was down 45% from last weekend, when market conditions were arguably normal, and off 60% from the same weekend a year ago. In fact, the weekend after Sept. 11, Sept. 14-16, 2001, fared better at the box office with $66.4M. At the time, I remember the narrative being that 9/11 fears didn’t impact movie-going, that it was just another typical dry weekend during September, which back then didn’t program event movies.
Some will assume that the new 50% capacity caps put in place by most major cinemas are what’s forcing the box office down. That’s not the case, as I’ve been informed it’s largely the marketplace’s attitude. For any film that overperforms, business can be switched to another theater, and that capacity quota can always grow.
“The circuits are doing a phenomenal job of being respectful to local government ordinances, while at the same time trying to serve the community,” said Universal domestic distribution boss Jim Orr this morning about exhibition circuits braving the marketplace this past weekend.
Some of the markets that were hit the hardest over the last two days versus the same period last weekend are Montreal, Canada (-72%), Boston (-65%), New York (-64%) and Philadelphia (-62%). According to CNN’s coronavirus cases state map, New York has the second-most in the nation with 613. In Washington state, which has the most at 642, Seattle-Tacoma is down only 47% at the weekend box office. But there was some buoyancy in other markets. For example, Dallas, which is typically the no. 5 market in a given weekend, was No. 2, only off 29% this weekend versus last, while Phoenix, which typically ranks No. 9, was No. 4 off only 26%. That indicates that those markets weren’t hit as hard as others.
All estimates are down, as analysts can’t keep track of this depressing wave. It’s very challenging for them to keep any consistency and the current situation at the box office is changing in real-time. No one can say with certainty what is going to happen in the next set of hours, or even in the next week. Disney’s Onward posted the biggest second weekend drop in Pixar history through no fault of the pic’s own, with $10.5M, down 73% for a $60.3M 10-day.
Lionsgate’s I Still Believe came in lower than the $10M+ many were seeing yesterday, with $9.5M at 3,250 locations. That said, this movie held incredibly well, given the circumstances that the nation is in. Typically a faith-based movie like this would see a solid Sunday, bolstered by churchgoers heading to the cinema after services. But most churches are closed around the nation, which poses a question around today’s business. Sony’s Bloodshot is coming in at $9.3M in 3rd, and Universal/Blumhouse’s Invisible Man and The Hunt were 4th and 5th with $6M and $5.3M. For all the wide entries, it’s not about opening weekend, it’s about where do we end up?
Some movies did see a Saturday uptick, which says that movie-going has a pulse, but it’s nothing to chest-thump about, given how off everything is. Those pics that saw some growth Saturday over Friday include Onward, Invisible Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Way Back, Call of the Wild, Bad Boys for Life, and Emma in the top 10. If you back out the $2.85M previews from I Still Believe‘s $4M Friday, Saturday was technically up for the movie, with yesterday seeing $3.1M, +170% over Friday’s $1.15M.
Overall, one studio analyst says in updated weekend estimates that the new movies underperformed as much as 20% to 35% then they were projected to come in, with the top films being off north of 25% than they would have under normal circumstances.
Studio-reported Sunday estimates:
Weekend B.O. March 13-15
Saturday AM Update w/chart It’s a drastic time out there for movie theaters and studios, as the domestic weekend box office is looking to land at a level that hasn’t been seen arguably since 1998, with an estimated $58.5M. The last time it was this low, according to Comscore, was the weekend of Sept. 11-13, 1998, with $56.8M. This was at a time when the early September period was a place for non-event titles at the box office.
Even the time frame following Sept. 11, 2001, fared better at the box office, with the weekend of Sept. 21-23 grossing $59.7M. Box Office analysts believe that this weekend’s wide entries of I Still Believe, The Hunt, and Bloodshot underperformed somewhere between 15% to 35% from where they were forecast to come in. Overall, the 3-day weekend looks to be off 42% from last weekend’s take of $100.7M. There is one optimist out there who believes if we can get to $19M today, then this weekend could possibly touch $70M. But that all depends on whether the regular Saturday bump occurs.
While last week’s box office was clearly immune to the breaking coronavirus headlines posting $134M (March 6-12), +4% from the previous week, everyone is distracted. Most exhibitors I spoke with yesterday agree with the majors that it was a wise move to postpone big movies like A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan, No Time to Die, etc. There’s no way to cut through this noise and get people into theaters, as they’re lining up at Walmart and big box stores in the early AM to empty store shelves.
While a majority of the big chains are staying open and working with new policies that maintain no more than a 50% capacity in each auditorium, there’s roughly 84 theaters that have shuttered across Canada and the US, as they either can’t pay their employees, given the low foot traffic, or due to local ordinances, which is the case for several venues in Pennsylvania like the Regal King of Prussia 17, Regal Oaks Stadium 24 and Regal Plymouth 10 in Conshohocken, PA.
In the hot zone state of Washington, which counts 568 cases (as of Saturday AM), such theaters as the Rose Twin, Port Townsend, Majestic Bay 3 in Seattle, Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, the Boeing Imax in Seattle, and the SIFF Egyptian in the latter city are closed. Some theaters are shut down for a two-week trial period, while others have a TBD time frame.
This note from Alamo Drafthouse on Twitter about their Brooklyn, NY and Yonkers, NY locations:
Those venues that are open are grappling with how to configure their seating assignments in auditoriums to create social distancing: Is it every other row, or is it spaced by single attendees and couples?
Disney/Pixar’s Onward is still poised to lead the weekend though at a much lower level than what we saw yesterday afternoon, with a $3.3M second Friday, -73%, for a $12.5M second weekend, down a huge 68%, likely the biggest drop for a Pixar movie ever. Though again, that’s due to market conditions. Ten-day running gross would arrive at $62.2M.
Lionsgate’s I Still Believe led all titles yesterday with $4M and an opening of $10.9M. That’s good considering the movie only cost in the low teens before P&A, and much of that is boosted from church groups’ advance ticket purchases. I Still Believe, from Jon and Andrew Erwin, is the first film to be released by their Kingdom Story Company. The pic landed an A CinemaScore last night, which is standard for Christian-themed movies. The Mid-West and South delivered 64% of the A.J. Kapa movie’s business, versus the norm of 53.5% for all other films.
Sony’s Bloodshot saw $3.78M yesterday on its way to a $9.3M opening. The movie received a B grade from CinemaScore, which is slightly better than Vin Diesel’s 2015 The Last Witch Hunter, which notched a B-. The movie’s reported $45M net production cost was split between Bona Film Group, Cross Creek Pictures, and Sony, the latter carrying the bulk of that freight. What’s even more unfortunate for this movie is that it was prepped to be a global play, especial with China being Vin Diesel’s best market (The Last Witch Hunter made $27.4M in the PRC). But with theaters closed throughout Europe, this is an impossible launch. In the US/Canada, Bloodshot played best on the coasts but even there it was average, I hear.
Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man is seeing a third weekend of $6.2M, -59%, for a running total by Sunday of $64.6M.
And both studios’ The Hunt posted $2.2M, for a $5.7M opening in 5th place. The movie, before P&A, cost around $14M. The Hunt wasn’t received well by those who saw it, with a C+. Best grosses for this movie, which were muted overall, occurred on the coasts. This political satire was bound to be a hard sell even in a vibrant box office economy.
It is often said that the movie business is a product-driven one, and that when no one shows up, it’s due to lackluster titles. But these aren’t normal market conditions. To go through and thoroughly ding why each of the new movies didn’t work, i.e. The Hunt, which already had right-wing criticism coming into the marketplace, or Vin Diesel being stronger at the B.O. in Fast & Furious movies versus his solo outings; these insights are trite right now because the exhibition infrastructure isn’t working at its optimum level. Movie theaters are adamant to stay open, given how they’ve always been the salvation during depression era times, both economically, and culturally.
No one, around the world, has weathered a situation like this before, and many theaters are taking this day by day in regards to their operations. There aren’t any wide entries until Easter weekend, that being Dreamworks Animation/Universal’s Trolls World Tour, which is still in a wait-and-see-mode by Universal. Many are hoping for the best, that this coronavirus situation quells by the holiday weekend, if not, by May 1 in time for Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow.
Saturday estimates off industry calculations:
Box Office For March 13-15
UPDATED, Friday midday: Don’t blame the recent 50% caps that big chains AMC and Regal just put on their auditorium capacity, but according to estimates it appears some hesitation by moviegoers is setting in at the weekend box office. Not to mention that the fresh product on the marquee largely wasn’t ever going to encourage many to go.
Disney/Pixar’s Onward is dropping steeper than the usual 45% (or less) for an animated pic’s second-weekend hold, with $16 million, -59%, just like Good Dinosaur‘s Weekend 2 drop. The latest pic is eyeing a $4.3M Friday, -64%, and a 10-day total by Sunday of $65.8M.
Lionsgate’s I Still Believe, which I’ve heard has had some solid advance sales from church groups, is seeing $3.8M and a three-day total of $10.3M, just outside the $11M-$14M industry tracking was seeing. Friday’s gross includes Wednesday and Thursday previews.
All the Vin Diesel fans appear as though they showed up last night for Sony’s Bloodshot, as Friday only looks to be $3.4M for a three-day cume of $8.4M.
Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man looks to outflank the duo studios’ satirical genre opener The Hunt, $6.4M to $5.7M. The latter is seeing a Friday of $2.25M, including last night’s $435,000. Invisible Man is eyeing a Friday of $1.83M, -60%, with a third weekend that’s down 58%. The running total by Sunday looks to be $64.8M.
While STX moved My Spy to April 17, the family movie opened in Canada at 125 theaters in three markets via local distributor Elevation.
PREVIOUSLY, Friday 8:26 AM: With our world changing in real time as the U.S. grips with the coronavirus outbreak, movie theaters across the nation stand as the last line of entertainment to remain open as theme parks, sports games, and events close down for indefinite amounts of time.
Sources tell me that it will come down to local governments in regards to which cinemas remain open or closed moving forward. To date, the big three chains –AMC, Regal, and Cinemark– haven’t declared a nationwide shutdown, though I hear 11 movie theaters in the Northeast have shuttered. And that Regal theater in the New Rochelle, NY, hot zone the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo deemed a containment area? Still open (update: I understand it’s outside the mile designated radius).
What is shocking from a financial standpoint is that in the wake of a year that saw all movies theaters operating on all cylinders around the clock to deliver the biggest domestic opening in history with Avengers: Endgame ($357.1M), we could be poised to see the biggest drought at the box office in the wake of major studios pulling their big spring features A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan and F9. That said, depression and recessions have historically been rich times at the box office, and it will be interesting to see in the days to come whether audiences buck fears over the coronavirus and head out, or if demand and the exhibition infrastructure recedes. Reports abound of movie theaters publicizing their cleaning policies, and chains like Alamo executing staggered seating like the cinemas in Spain (and what is expected in China).
Following the wave of yesterday’s release date changes, Thursday felt according to many like business as usual, though of course, not as robust as those Marches when there’s a Marvel movie like Black Panther or Captain Marvel in play.
Disney’s Onward among regular releases grossed an estimated $1.9M, down only 12%, bringing its first-week total to $49.8M. The expectation is that the Pixar animated film will repeat at No. 1 with a high-teens take, maybe $20M. Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man posted $1.05M, -17%, for a second week’s take of $20.8M and a running total of $58.4M.
Again, this weekend’s wide entries were never expected to break out at the box office, even in a healthy market, but there was some business, though largely muted.
On the bright side, Sony/Bona Film/Cross Creek’s Bloodshot led all previews with $1.2M off previews that started at 5 PM at 2,631 screens — a number that bests Vin Diesel’s 2015 The Last Witch Hunter ($525K), which went on to open to $10.8M, as well as his 2013 Riddick, which had previews start at 8 PM, moving toward a $975K evening and $19M domestic opening. Industry estimates are in the $8M-$10M range for the new movie.
Critics didn’t take to the feature adaptation of the Valiant Comics IP, with a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Thursday night audiences were so-so at 3 stars for the PG-13 action pic and a 45% definite recommend. Men over 25 made a trip to this at 51%, followed by 21% men under 25, 21% females under 25 and 6% females under 25. Diversity demos were 49% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 16% African American and 9% Asian.
Lionsgate’s faith-based feature I Still Believe saw $780K at 283 Imax locations on Wednesday and expanded Thursday night to previews at 2,600 locations. That cash is in line with such titles as CBS Studios’ Five Feet Apart ($715K previews, $13.1M opening) and STX’s Adrift ($725K, $11.6M). I Still Believe will open on 3,250 screens today. The Erwin Brothers’ previous faith-based sleeper, 2018’s I Can Only Imagine, did $1.3M in Thursday previews at 1,392 locations before a $17.1M opening.
Faith-based pics always score fantastic in their exits as they draw churchgoers, and this K.J. Apa-starring pic saw 4 1/2 stars from general audiences (95%), and five stars from kids under 12 and parents (a combined 10%) in PostTrak exits. If all market forces go right this weekend, I Still Believe can hopefully hit a $11M-$14M opening. The feature saw its strongest turnout from women over 25 at 49%, followed by guys over 25 at 30%, females under 25 at 16%, and men under 25 at 6%. Big churchgoing audience indeed, with those over 45 at 53% last night.
Meanwhile, Blumhouse/Universal’s R-rated action genre feature The Hunt posted $435K at 2,200 theaters off 7 PM shows. Its three-day total looks to be in the single digits. The comparative titles here to these preview results aren’t pretty: 20th Century Studios’ Underwater ($500K previews, $7M opening), and Amblin’s F CinemaScore spooky movie The Turning ($425K, $6.95M opening). Critics largely weren’t keen to this Blue State vs. Red State satire at 55% Rotten.
Elsewhere, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog made $515K, -14% from Wednesday, for a running fourth week of $10.4M, and total of $143.2M. Fourth place goes to 20th Century Studios/Disney’s Call of the Wild with $495K, -16%, for a third week of $9.4M and running cume of $59.9M.
Warner Bros’ Ben Affleck drama The Way Back made $460K yesterday, -25% from Wednesday, in fifth place with an $11M first week.