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Entertainment Hollywood 16 Mar 2020 North America box of ...

North America box office sees lowest turnout in two decades

Published Mar 16, 2020, 10:24 am IST
Updated Mar 16, 2020, 10:24 am IST
Ticket sales have plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at North American movie theaters amid the coronavirus pandemic
A sole spectator watches a film in a movie theatre in Budapest, Hungary, on thursday, March 12, 2020(AP)
 A sole spectator watches a film in a movie theatre in Budapest, Hungary, on thursday, March 12, 2020(AP)

Film Ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at North American movie theaters as the coronavirus pandemic led to one of Hollywood's worst weekends at the box office.

Receipts totaled about $55.3 million in U.S. and Canada theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday.


Not since 2000 has weekend box office revenue been so low, according to data firm Comscore, when $54.5 million in tickets were sold on a quiet September weekend. More people went to the movies the weekend after Sept. 11, 2001.

Disney's latest release from Pixar, ''Onward,'' remained the top film, earning $10.5 million in its second weekend, The Christian romance ''I Still Believe'' from Lionsgate brought in $9.5 million.

Sony's comic-book adaptation ''Bloodshot,'' with Vin Diesel, grossed an estimated $9.3 million in its debut. The Blumhouse horror satire ''The Hunt'' opened with $5.3 million.

All of those totals were notably below expectations while most films last week had aimed to do 25% to 50% better. The weekend's sales overall were down 45% from the weekend before, according to Comscore.

While this weekend's crop of films weren't expected to compete with the same time frame last year, when ''Captain Marvel'' was in release, revenue was down 60% from the same weekend last year.

Pixar films virtually always hold well for weeks, but ''Onward'' dropped 73% from its opening weekend. ''The Hunt,'' which remounted its release after its debut was canceled last fall following a wave of deadly shootings, had hoped to do twice as well.

Most of Europe's cinemas have shuttered in recent days, as have theaters in China, India, Lebanon and Kuwait. Those closures have already slashed international grosses. Health officials are urging for those who can stay home to do so, to help stymie the spread of the virus.

The continent's two largest chains, AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas, said they wouldn't fill theaters to more than 50% capacity to facilitate social distancing.

Others asked moviegoers to leave empty seats around them and all pledged to clean theaters in between screenings.

 Concerts have been called off. Festivals including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and the Tribeca Film Festival in New York have been canceled or delayed.

Most live-action film and TV production has been put on hiatus.

Hollywood also has postponed most of its upcoming releases, next week's most anticipated movie, ''A Quiet Place Part 2,'' has been removed from the schedule.

Other major releases, including Disney's ''Mulan” and the James Bond film ''Die Another Day'' have been put off.