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For the first time in almost three decades, major Hollywood studios are not reporting weekend box-office returns. With mainstream theater chains closed all across the country—and the world—due to the coronavirus pandemic, there's really no point, even if a few hundred theaters (mostly smaller venues, some of them old-school drive-ins) are still operational throughout the United States.
As Deadline reports, a similar lull in box-office reporting occurred just after the Northridge earthquake in the winter of 1994. At the time, Comscore Senior Media analyst Paul Dergarabedian was working for Exhibitor Relations Co. and had to sneak in to work so he could send out numbers to the press.
"The gentleman who ran the company, John Krier, snuck me into the building so I could send the box office estimates via fax to the press and the industry," Dergarabedian told Deadline. "Philadelphia [with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington] was the No. 1 film that weekend and nobody in Southern California was going to the movies that day given the enormity of the situation and as I recall, and the building was shutdown for safety reasons. My boss snuck me past the security guard to run the box office sheets through the fax machine to our industry and press clients."
However, the COVID-19 situation is still unique in that there are absolutely no ticket sales to report. Even if a person could sneak into their office during this time, there'd be nothing to fax. This is a wholly unprecedented situation.
“Today what everyone is focused on is solidarity and being there for each other," Dergarabedian continued. "While the numbers not going out as usual saddens all of us in the industry, once theaters and restaurants are back online, and day-to-day activities are back to some semblance of normalcy, people will once again be embracing those experiences and the movie theater will be a big part of that."
Had this been a normal weekend, we'd be talking about the performance on Pixar's Onward; Sony's Bloodshot; and Universal's The Invisible Man and The Hunt. Because of theater closures and the public policy of self-isolation/quarantine, all of these titles have been or are going to be released early on digital platforms.
As of last week, Onward was at the top of the box office, with $10.5 million in domestic sales. The animated release made over $103 million across the world before the pandemic shut everything down. Bloodshot and The Hunt opened to $9.3 million and $5.3 million, respectively. In terms of global sales, the former has just over $10 million, while the latter has a little over $6 million.
For our list of all the events, films, TV shows, and more affected by the pandemic, click here. And for extensive information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, check out the CDC’s coronavirus website.
(box office figures via Box Office Mojo)