Fourteen theaters in the United States remained opened at the weekend box office according to recent reports obtained by Deadline, 13 of them were drive-ins.
Those locations standing tall in the COVID-19 climate included the Van Buren Drive-in in Riverside, CA; the Mission Tiki in Monclair, CA; the Galaxy Drive-in in Ennis, TX; the Glendale 9 in Glendale, AZ; the Sacramento 6 Drive-In; the Starlite Drive-in in Cadet, MO; the South Bay Drive-In San Diego; the Auto Drive-in the Greenville, NC area; Hi-Way 21 in Beaufort, SC; the Jesup in Georgia; the Ocala in Florida; King Drive in Huntsville, AL; the Lake Worth in Palm Springs, FL and the Epic Theaters of West Volusia, Florida.
Some locations, such as the Van Buren, have already shuttered due to local restrictions, and as we enter a week which Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, the US surgeon general, calls “the hardest and saddest week in most Americans’ lives,” we’ll see which ones can survive.
The three pics that were being tracked over the weekend included: Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man at seven drive-ins and the Epic grossing $36,6K, Uni/Blumhouse’s The Hunt with $36K at eight drive-ins, and Disney’s Onward at ten drive-ins, earning $22,7K; the latter pic available to all Disney+ subscribers as of Friday. Invisible Man and The Hunt are also available for on-demand rental.
It’s possible that some of these theaters might be playing Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour this coming weekend, but no one is really banking on it as the film’s biggest cash grab and primary means of viewing remains on-demand in homes for $19.99 (a 48-hour rental). No on-demand grosses are reported as there’s no universal means ala Comscore to provide up-to-date and simultaneous revenue reporting like there is with ticket sales. In the wake of MGM’s 007 movie No Time to Die being the first major studio release to flee the calendar (specifically this coming weekend, Easter weekend) in anticipation of COVID-19, Uni moved up their release of Trolls World Tour in hopes of banking on the rich holiday weekend. But Uni didn’t anticipate the massive theatrical shutdown. Uni was further forced to pivot the DWA title to in-homes as New York, then Los Angeles, then the nation’s exhibitors took cinemas offline.
As depressing as it may be to read this report, it’s more about those small theaters who are braving it at this time in a nation in which the exhibition infrastructure has been forced to shut itself down out of safety from COVID-19 and into debt.
Let’s just hope the studios are being generous on rental terms as these drive-ins vie to give moviegoing a pulse, as slow as it may seem.