In a move that may very well be unprecedented, Disney will not be reporting their box-office numbers this weekend. It's very possible that other major studios will soon do the same. As major theater chains around the world closed their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, ticket sales dropped 97 percent when compared to this time last year. Yes, 97 percent.
“Given the current large number of theater shutdowns around the globe, Disney will suspend global weekend reporting for the time being. Wishing you and your families the best during these testing times and please be safe," the Mouse House said in a statement to Deadline.
Disney did not immediately respond to SYFY WIRE's request for comment.
Returns in the United States totaled an all-time weekday low of $300,000 Wednesday, writes The Hollywood Reporter. For context, the previous Wednesday saw almost $8 million in ticket sales. While this isn't wholly unexpected (after all, AMC and Regal locations are temporarily going dark), it's still mind-blowing to see just how much of a financial hit Hollywood is taking in this difficult time.
"According to best estimates, only 440 or so cinemas in the U.S. remained open on Wednesday out of a total 5,548 cinemas (excluding drive-ins)," THR continued.
To help offset the impact the virus is having on revenue from theatrical exhibition, studios have decided to give certain feature films an early release on digital platforms. Universal, Sony, Warner Bros., and Disney are all throwing chips into this unheard-of action that makes the most sense, as the people who usually consume their content are self-quarantining and social distancing for the next two weeks or longer.
Last weekend's box-office numbers were some of the worst in over two decades. Bloodshot couldn't break $10 million, while Onward stayed on top but suffered a 73 percent decline from its debut sales.
Interestingly, the Los Angeles Times reports that drive-in theaters are seeing a resurgence in popularity. This old-school method of enjoying a film from the comfort of one's own car is about the only way you can "go to the movies" these days. Beau Bianchi (whose family has owned the Paramount Drive-In theater in Paramount, California, since 1946) told the Times that ticket sales this past Tuesday were "at least double" what they usually are.
“It has been a welcome relief for families and adults looking for a little getaway from the house,” Bianchi said. “We’ve been trying to let people know that we have a safe environment and [offer] a little escape.”
Even the drive-ins will most likely close, however, after California governor Gavin Newsom officially ordered all of the state's residents (an estimated 40 million people) to stay at home, so as to prevent a further spread of COVID-19.
To reference SYFY WIRE's previous box-office reporting, click here.
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.