This is one of those weekends where a film’s box office take truly is no indication of its appeal, to critics or audiences. Because everything was bad, thanks to COVID-19. Box Office Mojo reports that it is the lowest figure for this weekend on the calendar (the year’s 11th) in 25 years, even.
The total domestic box office for the top 5 earners for the week that just ended was $30.7 million, which wouldn’t be a good opening weekend for any of the films we usually write about. Of that, Onward grossed $10.5 million from U.S. screens, basically a quarter of what the Disney/Pixar flick took in its March 6 opening weekend.
The top 10, combined, pulled just $50.35 million. That cumulative top-10 gross is the lowest for weekend 11 since March 17-19, 1995, a weekend led by — we are not making this up — Outbreak. That film starred Rene Russo and Dustin Hoffman, involved an Ebola-like virus, and premiered at a time when an Ebola outbreak in Zaire was leading the news.
This week’s No. 2 earner, at an estimated $9.5 million, is I Still Believe, a romantic biopic about a Christian music star. That’s followed by Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot ($9.3 million), The Invisible Man ($6 million) and the premiere of The Hunt ($5.3 million), whose marketing was controversial enough that Universal pulled the film last fall. Sonic the Hedgehog, which premiered Feb. 14, was sixth with $2.5 million.
Deadline reports that COVID-19 could end up responsible for up to $17 billion in lost box office revenue, for the period comprising January through May, although that sum is a loose estimate. But it could be compounded by the fact that several distributors have moved releases (most notably, No Time to Die) in light of the fact most everyone in the world is being encouraged to stay at home if possible, and avoid crowds of people at all costs. Relatedly, Variety reported on Saturday that The Batman stopped production for two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.