What a difference a year — and a pandemic — makes. At this time in 2019, Pokémon Detective Pikachu was the No. 1 movie in 72 markets with a $54M frame at the international box office while John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum took out a took out a $35M hit in 66 and Avengers: Endgame still had stones aplenty. As some overseas markets begin to open with the gradual easing of coronavirus lockdowns, and as we ease back into reporting from overseas turnstiles, it is clearly a vastly different picture that includes social distancing and a lack of concessions in some areas. (See below for breakouts on some of the markets that are back in action.)
Though it’s very slow going out there, some offshore markets are edging back into operations and the past weekend saw business in some of the majors, while some smaller hubs are finding patrons eager and others are just inching back to what’s available. And that’s not much — cinemas are in a phasing-in phase that is seeing re-releases of catalogue titles, largely in single screen or indie theaters and, significantly in Germany, drive-ins driving the business. None of the major circuits in Europe are opening at this time, and likely won’t until late June as they prepare their teams for the new normal.
Cineworld CEO Mooky Griedinger, whose Cinema City subsid circuit is the largest in Czech Republic and has theaters across Central Europe, tells Deadline that it didn’t make financial sense at the moment for its screens there to re-open. With no new product and a ban on concessions in Czech Repuplic and Bulgaria, for example, it’s better to hold off. “We prefer to wait three to four weeks. All cinema openings are very good news, but we need to take it step by step.” He expects all of Cineworld’s theaters to be back in late June/early July.
So May is kind of a test month, and June will be as well — although it’s expected that more studio library titles will be on offer while some pics whose releases were on deck just as the coronavirus outbreak began to spread may also get slots. And all of this as there’s collective breath-holding until the first new film hits markets. That is currently expected to be Christopher Nolan’s Tenet from Warner Bros, followed by Disney’s Mulan both in July.
In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of what went down this weekend in the overseas hubs that are currently up and running, even if only to a degree (figures are culled together from multiple sources):
The biggest new market to the fray this session was Germany with 1.1M euros ($1.2M) across 24 titles from Thursday-Sunday. That’s an 11% increase on last weekend, though mostly it’s drive-in cinemas repping the biggest chunk of takings. Six cinemas in Hesse were allowed to open this frame as the country’s states are rolling out in a staggered manner. Constantin’s Perfect Strangers, the No. 1 local title of 2019, is still at the top of the overall chart (with $131.5K at 60 locations, all drive-ins, we understand), followed by Warner Bros’ Joker ($101.6K/51), Lionsgate’s Knives Out ($86K/38), German pic The Kangaroo Chronicles ($85K/53) and Sony’s Bad Boys For Life ($75K/35).
Further German states, including North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony will begin to re-open later this month.
Particularly in the case of drive-ins, family movies are affected since the screenings are late in the evening and families are not allowed to see a film at that time with more than two people per car. Titles that skew towards older teens and millennials without kids (think horror, drama, etc) are faring better in most markets.
Korea, which began opening in late April, grossed $1.12M across its Top 10 titles this past session. They were led by Arclight’s Escape From Pretoria with Daniel Radcliffe which grossed $261K on 529 screens to lift the local cume to $484K through Sunday. Spain’s The Platform was No. 2 with $202K from 228. Disney released The Call Of The Wild which landed at No. 3 with $141K from 505 screens. Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day In New York, in its second week, has $538K through this weekend. Also notable, DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s Trolls World Tour, which went out theatrically and on VOD three weeks ago in the market, is still playinig at 126 locations and has taken a cumulative $880K in cinemas. Trolls is only playing in Megabox theaters which rep 18% of the market share.
Australia has a scant number of drive-in cinemas open with a $44K gross from the Top 5 movies that include Jumanji: The Next Level, Sonic The Hedgehog, The Invisible Man, Bloodshot and Frozen 2.
In Asia, Japan has some screens active, though none in Tokyo or Osaka. Box office in the market was $13K this weekend from the Top 10 movies at 82 sites. They were dominated by re-releases of WB titles include Birds Of Prey, Mask Ward, Mad Max: Fury Road, Just Mercy, Blade Runner and Richard Jewell. Also in the Top 10 were Disney’s A Hidden Life and Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody along with 1917 and Yesterday, both released locally by Toho.
Hong Kong was back up with 100% of its theaters operating. Box office there was about $550K for the Top 10, led by Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna and followed by Taiwanese horror pic The Bridge Curse. Local and other Asian movies made up the bulk of the rest with Sony’s Bloodshot and Uni’s Trolls and Emma also in the mix.
In Taiwan, the Top 10 did $236K, led by a re-release of local title The Last Emperor at about $76K from 34 locations. That was followed by a mix of local pics and non-U.S. imports. In Taiwan, cinemas never closed during COVID, including Vue International’s 20-screen SBC multiplex, and Disney/Pixar’s Onward is due this coming weekend while the Dark Knight trilogy is set for May 29 (WB releases in Hong Kong in June).
New Zealand also started opening some sites with about $17K coming from the Top 10 including Emma, JoJo Rabbit, The Invisible Man, Parasite, Call Of The Wild and Knives Out.
In the Nordics, Iceland’s few open cinemas did $24K from 16 films. They were led by local comedy The Last Fishing Trip, while Tom Hardy-starrer Capone was new with $3,800 in 2nd place and Disney’s Onward came in 3rd with $3,400. Norway, which started operations again last weekend saw admissions of about 10,500. That’s up about 54% versus the previous frame, but still less than 10% of a normal session. We’re told that the 50 person per screening limit and social distancing are having an impact. Only 60% of cinemas are currently open.
Elsewhere, Bulgaria with about 6% of cinemas open, also came back online this weekend. Those are understood to be single-screen sites and box office reporting has been sparse. A rep from the southwestern Bulgaria Cinemax theater located in Blagoevgrad, told Deadline they only sold about five tickets this weekend as people didn’t come out. The rep said the low turnout was a product of concern over COVID as well as a lack of new titles. Tickets were priced down to $1, and this person believed the situation was similar at the few other cinemas operating around the country.
Czech Republic just had its second weekend, and did $716K from the Top 20 movies in the market. They were dominated by a mix of local documentary V Siti, Disney’s Onward, Uni/Blumhouse’s The Hunt, comedies Vlastníci and Chlap Na Střídačku with a little room for The Invisible Man, Sonic The Hedgehog, 1917, The Gentlemen, Bloodshot, Ford V Ferrari, Hobbs & Shaw and Parasite.