Not the Weekend Forecast for March 20-22, 2020

By Reagen Sulewski

March 19, 2020

Sign of the times.

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So, this column has never felt quite so irrelevant.

With the COVID-19 crisis progressing rapidly, and without a particular end in sight, the notion of congregating in large groups to see a film has become one of those things that society has sacrificed, hopefully temporarily. As a sign of how quickly things have changed, the daily box office has shifted from $3.4 million on Monday (already low) to $1.3 million on Tuesday, and down to an unfathomable $260 thousand on Wednesday. By Friday that number will likely be zero, or close enough to it to not make a difference. The #1 movie for Wednesday, Onward, made a grand total of $61,000, a figure that likely hasn't won a day since the 1960s. This is going to leave a giant gaping crater in the world's box office that's going to be visible for all time. Expect a lot of "except for"s in future forecasts when talking about exemplars.

It's far from the most important thing right now, but let's look at a couple of cases - Onward will look in at $61 million, on a budget of $200 million. Bloodshot, $10 million, on a budget of $40 million. Even the usually sure bet low-budget I Still Believe is going to get hammered in the final analysis, with $9 million on a $12 million budget. Sonic the Hedgehog, once comfortably expected to become the highest grossing video game movie of all time, will juuuust squeak by Detective Pikachu, $146 million to $144 million. The Hunt, a doubly cursed movie, stops just shy of $6 million. The smartest/luckiest bunch? Those who saw this coming and moved their tentpoles, likely at the time at nervousness about *international* box office, though both domestic and international became problems at about the same time.


James Bond and A Quiet Place moved first, with major films clearing out of the way all the way to Memorial Day weekend. It's unlikely for there to be an "All Clear Day," so it's hard to say when there might be a return to normalcy in the box office, even if it were the case that we'd see a rebound after days, weeks, months? cooped up. Possibly streaming releases become the norm, at least for a while, though it's hard to see studios giving up that model so quickly. Then again, who saw this coming?

What that means for us at BOP is uncertain. We're a creative bunch, and while we're all still reeling a little about the speed of the events of the past two weeks (that's like six months in Pandemic Time), we'll be coming forward with new content soon and all throughout. See you on the other side, brothers and sisters.



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