Movie box office tanks, suffers worst weekend in 20 years amid coronavirus fears

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

Receipts totalled about $55.3 million in U.S. and Canada theatres, 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. Most films last week had aimed to do 25 per cent to 50 per cent better. The weekend’s sales overall were down 45 per cent from the weekend before, according to Comscore.

While this weekend’s crop of films weren’t expected to compete with the same timeframe last year, when Captain Marvel was in release, revenue was down 60 per cent from the same weekend last year.

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

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