Weekend Box Office (March 13 - 15, 2020)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The box office plunged to dismal levels in the wake of the national spread of coronavirus which has prompted people to practice social distancing and avoiding large gatherings, including movie theaters. Some multiplex chains have instituted policies of capping sales at 50% capacity and studios have postponed some of the spring season's largest blockbusters so empty seats will be the norm for some time to come.

Overall, the top ten films this weekend slumped to only $50.4M. That's the worst for the top ten since the $45.9M of August 25-27 in 2017 at the end of summer that year. Every holdover in top ten this weekend fell by 60-73% and only five wide releases total managed to generate an average of over $1,000 this weekend. Grim numbers.

Leading the marketplace for a second straight weekend was Pixar's latest film Onward which fell a sharp 73% to an estimated $10.5M. Disney has collected just $60.3M in the first ten days. Even before the coronavirus disruptions, Onward was performing at the low end of Pixar standards and now it seems likely to finish as the lowest grossing film ever for the animation studio in its 25-year history and quite possibly the first that fails to break $100M domestic.

The PG-rated faith-based film I Still Believe scored the best opening of any new film this weekend coming in second place with an estimated $9.5M from 3,250 theaters for a $2,923 average. Reviews were mixed for the Lionsgate release but the target audience came out in respectable numbers, given current marketplace conditions. The filmmakers delivered a strong hit two years ago this same weekend with I Can Only Imagine which debuted to a stellar $17.1M and $10,513 average and under normal circumstances, Believe should have hit double digit millions this weekend too.

Opening in third place was Vin Diesel's new film Bloodshot with an estimated $9.3M from 2,861 locations for a moderate $3,251 average. Sony's super hero actioner was met with negative reviews from critics and fans gave a decent B CinemaScore grade. Diesel does not sell too well outside of his marquee Fast and Furious franchise and this new one debuted a bit behind the $10.8M bow of his movie The Last Witch Hunter from October 2015. Both are PG-13 non-sequel films. The actor was scheduled to hit the screen again this May with F9 but with coronavirus scares, it was one of a handful of Hollywood tentpoles being postponed (in this case, to Easter weekend 2021).

Universal's horror hit The Invisible Man plunged 60% to an estimated $6M but the impressive total has risen to $64.4M. The new satirical action-horror film The Hunt opened to weak results with an estimated $5.3M from 3,028 locations for a lackluster $1,757 average. Universal was met with mixed reviews for the R-rated film and audiences gave a disappointing C+ grade from CinemaScore so the road ahead looks bleak.

Next on the charts was the vidgame hit Sonic the Hedgehog with an estimated $2.6M, down 67%, for a new domestic cume of $145.8M for Paramount. Global is now $306.5M. Ben Affleck's The Way Back declined by a steep 70% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.4M. Warner Bros. has banked only $13.4M.

Harrison Ford followed with The Call of the Wild which fell 67% to an estimated $2.2M putting Disney at $62.1M. Period piece Emma fell 72% to an estimated $1.4M giving Focus $10M to date. Bad Boys For Life, 2020's highest grossing film so far, rounded out the top ten with an estimated $1.1M, down 64%, putting Sony at a hefty $204.3M.

The top ten films only grossed an estimated $50.4M which was down a sharp 60% from last year when Captain Marvel stayed at number one with $68M; and down a heavy 58% from 2018 when Black Panther once again remained in the top spot with $26.7M in its fifth weekend.

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Last Updated: March 15, 2020 at 3:00PM ET

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