Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
March 14, 2020
Remember last week when we were worried about a Pixar movie making less than $40 million because of COVID-19? Well, this week told last week, "Hold my beer."
Yes, circumstances have changed significantly since last weekend. We are now in the midst of a pandemic, one that has spread around the world and continues to show exponential growth in the United States. When Rudy Gobert touched a bunch of media microphones as a joke on Wednesday, that was the end. He tested positive for the virus, the NBA suspended the season, Tom Hanks revealed he and his wife Rita Wilson are convalescing from the illness, the NCAA cancelled the remained of the spring sports season, and a lot of us learned what the acronym WFH means.
No, that acronym is not "What fresh hell?" although you'd be forgiven for believing that to be the case. Instead, it means "Work from home," as companies across the country either mandated or requested that their employees work from home to avoid spreading COVID-19 and help to "flatten the curve."
Also during this time: Disney announced all of their parks would close at least through the end of March. Many movies were delayed, including A Quiet Place II, Mulan, F9 (the next Fast & Furious film), Antlers, New Mutants, and Peter Rabbit II. It was frankly too late to move this weekend's releases, or distributors might have done so. On the plus side, Disney+ added Frozen II to their library three months early, and Disney also is releasing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on digital platforms early.
So, at least we have something to preoccupy ourselves in this time of no sports and no group activity.
We won't have much box office to report on after this weekend until wide releases return to theaters. Both AMC and Regal have announced social distancing measures of their own, where no theater can sell more than 50 percent of its seats. Of course, that announcement didn't matter much to this weekend's releases, as they were doomed from the start. Currently, no new wide releases are scheduled until St. Maud and Trolls: World Tour on April 10th. My suspicion is that we will see more delays potentially through the end of April.
What of the new releases, though? Well, I Still Believe, a movie targeted at the church crowd, earned $4 million. From the makers of the well-received I Can Only Imagine, this one likewise centers around a contemporary Christian music singer/songwriter. In this case, the musician is Jeremy Camp, and the story focuses on his meeting his first wife, who had ovarian cancer and died four months after they married. I'm not revealing much here - you can tell what will happen in the commercials.
Anyway, I Still Believe was the top film yesterday, earning $4 million. It's always super hard to predict what faith-based films will do over the weekend, but I'll give this one $11 million.
Next we have Bloodshot, a vampire comic book adaptation featuring Vin Diesel. This one was pretty much dumped, and the fact that its audience is more likely to heed social distancing warnings and find alternate forms of entertainment didn't help. It earned $3.8 million yesterday and should manage about $9.8 million this weekend.
The final new release was The Hunt, a film that had been delayed previously because of complaints about its political message. The controversy didn't carry over, and it earned just $2.2 million. It should come in with $6 million and might have been better off had it just released straight to video.
Onward almost assuredly suffered last week in the wake of COVID-19 worries. This weekend, families worried about the well-being of their children and others stayed home. Onward earned just $3.2 million, a decline of 73 percent. It will recover a bit over the weekend, but not enough to make a significant difference in the trajectory this one will take. This is one where Disney could have released it on D+ as a gesture of goodwill and probably gained a number of subscribers.
Stay well, BOP readers. We'll keep you updated on the latest box office news in the coming days.