clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jurassic Park was once again the No. 1 movie in America this weekend

As theaters slowly reopen, studios turn to classics to fill the screens

jurassic park ending: the t-rex defeats the raptors in the jurassic park lobby as a “when the dinosaurs ruled the earth” banner falls from the ceiling Image: Universal Pictures
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park arrived in 1993 to an opening-weekend gross of $47 million — massive, for the time. The blockbuster’s theatrical run lasted for over a year and a half, finally wrapping up in October 1994 with a worldwide total of $912 million (or $1.6 billion in 2020 dollars). A 2013 3D re-release added another $118 million to the number. And even today, 27 years later, Spielberg’s creature feature continues to add a few bucks to the milestone figure: Last weekend, Jurassic Park made $517,000 in theaters, becoming the biggest movie in North America yet again.

The circumstances are the fodder of a Michael Crichton novel: After the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the subsequent lockdown measures designed to prevent further spread of COVID-19, movie theaters became one of hundreds of types of businesses forced to cease operations. The urgent decision has been catastrophic for the industry, with AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the U.S., predicting a net loss of between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion for the first quarter of 2020.

Despite a rise in cases in several states across the country, “reopening” plans are moving forward in America, allowing theater chains to invite audiences back to the movies, albeit with varying guidelines. Cinemark and Regal are currently encouraging, but not requiring, ticket buyers to wear masks; AMC recently took a hard mask-wearing stance after a wave of backlash. Though there were no new releases to draw audiences back to the multiplexes, according to a Comscore report released this week (via Deadline), nearly 1,100 theaters were open for business during the Father’s Day weekend, paving the way for Jurassic Park’s minor resurgence.

The appetite for big-screen entertainment is an unknown factor, causing studios to re-reschedule tentpoles like Wonder Woman 1984 from August to the fall and bump kid-centric fare like The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run directly to streaming (in this case, a CBS All Access premiere in 2021). The only movie really hanging on this summer is Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which Warner Bros. delayed two weeks to July 31 to ride the theoretical reopening wave.

But for now, studios are relying on late winter releases (Sonic the Hedgehog, The Invisible Man) and a handful of classics to fill the gaps. Jurassic Park and Jaws were the No. 1 and No. 2 movies in the country, respectively, with Back to the Future and E.T. sneaking in at the bottom of the top 10. A tiny horror release, Followed, was the highest-grossing new movie of the week, drawing a mere $127,200. As Deadline notes, the individual theater hauls are bleak, with Cinemark multiplexes in Texas reporting just around $1,000 per location.

At this rate, Spielberg may have the biggest box office hold in his career since the summer of 1993. Jurassic Park remained at No. 1 for three weeks that June; under current conditions, the movie could hold that position for the next two months.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon