On Saturday morning, I was thinking about our normal Weekend Box Office Report that we do every Monday and wondering if it was worth doing anymore. Just a day later and I got the answer to my pondering and it turns out the answer is a definitive no. As reported by Deadline, there will be no more box office reporting for the foreseeable future thanks to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is probably not a surprise, given how the last few weeks have seen so many films delayed or rescheduled that there’s currently not a single major release on the calendar until June. On top of that, cinemas across North America, China, and several European countries have shut their doors, probably to their own financial ruin, to help contain the spread of Covid-19. Then there’s also the fact that several studios have now simultaneously released current in-theatre films on digital as well, skewing any figures that may come in.
At last reporting, there were still over 200 cinemas doing business in North America, and many countries around the world doing the same, including here in South Africa. However, several studios and cinema chains are not releasing any figures. As a result, Comscore, the global US box office data reporting agency that forms the backbone of these reports, has not issued any box office charts or figures at all, as their data is incomplete, and thus they’re not able to provide an accurate chart.
The last time we had no box office chart was nearly three decades ago after the Northridge, California earthquake in 1994 when a 6.7 magnitude quake (and several powerful aftershocks) left an estimated 60-72 people dead and 8700 injured as it struck right in the heart of US film industry. Covid-19 is much, much worse than that.
While the film industry, and particular cinema chains, are suffering massively during this time, something unexpected has happened though. As reported in The LA Times, the past few weeks have seen a surprising uptick in business for retro drive-in theatres in North America. While some drive-in theatres closed their doors completely to comply with government rulings to prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people, there’s a grey area here as drive-ins see everybody isolated into their own cars anyway. Those drive-ins that remained open merely limited their concession sales, and as a result have seen ticket sales improve quite a bit. In some cases, their sales even doubled their regular takes.
Of course, there’s still the problem though that over the next two months or so, there won’t be any big movies released to entice audiences, so even these drive-ins will be feeling the effects of Covid-19.
Last Updated: February 15, 2021