Cinema ticket sales in North America were at their lowest levels for over two decades over the weekend, as increasing fears surrounding the coronavirus kept people at home.
Sales fell by 44 per cent from just a week prior to $56m across the US and Canada, with revenues having not been this low since September 2000 when $54.5m in tickets were sold, according to data from Comscore.
In an effort to mitigate revenue losses while facilitating social distancing, Regal and AMC cinema chains reduced capacities by 50 per cent to allow people to attend without sitting close to others.
Hollywood’s international revenues have been depleted as cinemas have shuttered across Europe, China, India, Lebanon and Kuwait.
The top three films in cinemas this weekend fell well below expectations with Disney’s ‘Onward’ earning $10.5m in its second weekend. ‘I Still Believe’ from Lionsgate brought in $9.5m, while Sony’s comic-book adaptation ‘Bloodshot’, grossed an estimated $9.3m.
Disney said in a statement: “With the worldwide coronavirus epidemic causing many domestic theatre chains to go to reduced seating and many international territories to either completely or partially close all theatres, as well as creating uncertainty about going to crowded spaces, all titles have seen larger than expected drops.”
Hollywood has postponed most of its upcoming releases, with ‘A Quiet Place Part 2’ postponing its release date, along with Disney’s ‘Mulan’ and the James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’.
The global box office has already taken a coronavirus hit of at least $7bn, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and if the remainder of March, April and May are included, lost revenue would climb another $10bn, making a total loss of approximately $17bn since the pandemic began.