Worldwide Box Office Slowly Sputters To Life As Cinemas Reopen

By | August 12, 2020 5:35 pm PDT

Global data kindly provided by Comscore

With almost 50% of cinemas around the world back in business, the big screen is stretching and coming out of its deep sleep. “Tenet” tickets have gone on sale, spreading like wildfire across social media, accounting for half of all ticket sales at Vue in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In China 80% of the cinemas are open, surging back in their third week of business. The box office may be nearer to USD $7 billion compared to last year’s approximately USD $25 billion average, but the coma is slowly lifting. We’re all waiting for “Tenet,” of course, but also “Wonder Woman 1984” in October and “No Time To Die” remains November. Just goes to show that James Bond was ready for the unexpected sooner than anyone else. That’s why his is the longest running franchise in the biz.

This weekend followed a busy business week in cinema business. The Paramount Consent Decree was terminated, allowing studios to own their own movie theatres – a change that had determined what movies were shown where since 1948. Then the deal signed between AMC and Universal Pictures to change release windows from 90 days to 17 days. Despite the worry this has caused, some commentators are saying that without more studios and companies participating, this could be a deal more between Universal and AMC than an agreement anyone else will honor. It remains to be seen if this is the fundamentally feared change of windows in the theatrical film business. All of this was made extra scary with Disney sending “Mulan” to the small screen for a one-off PVOD. As Celluloid Junkie’s Patrick von Sychowski suggests, this may be more to distract from the bad news bears Disney has had from shuttered and hiccuping theme parks, cruises and sports broadcasts onESPN.

Finally Chinese audiences are getting to see what they wanted to see in December or January. “1917” scored well in the top spot, pushing “Doolittle” out of the way, to earn USD $6 million. Prepping audiences for “Tenet,” “Interstellar” came in second place for USD $4.7 million in a weekend worth almost USD $20 million. Korea’s top title “Deliver Us From Evil” did the best at the weekend with USD $12.8 million, even better than “Peninsula’s” USD $10.8 million weekend, of any film since January’s “The Man Standing Next” earned $18.2 million. Weekend counts show how hungry cinema goers are – for new titles, larger screens and getting out of the home to the fourth space: the movie theatre. China was not the only good news this week but also the U.K. has come back with Cineworld blossoming open. Russia came back too, with Moscow being allowed to reopen.

Europe is making some very European choices. After seeing “Unhinged,” one may think that any country where the film stays in the top ten for longer than one week is an angry country. Nevertheless, this opposite of a feel-good movie has struck gold globally, after being in the top spot – particularly in Germany – as one of the first films to open post-pandemic shutdowns. Germany, however, is now embracing a concert (Andre Rieu’s 2020 Maasricht Concert) and the romance starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas “The Secret: Dare To Dream” which are, along with the family friendly heist “Max und die Wilde 7,” pushing “Unhinged” to 4th place in the territory. France embraced Gerard Butler – is he Scotland’s Russell Crowe now? – with “Greenland,” opening in first place, nicely comparable to another Butler classic “Angel Has Fallen” of 2019 even with 50% capacity and reduced showtimes. Portugal and the UAE both moved from 30% to 50% capacity – with the French comedy “Rendez-vous Chez Les Malawas” aka “Bienvenue Chez Les Malawas” taking and the David Bautista and Chloe Coleman family comedy “My Spy” holding the top spot respectively this week.

One Comscore report suggests that 64% of box office in the United States is coming from drive-ins as opposed to “hard tops” (movie theatres). Be that as it may, America has a new number one with Shia LaBeouf’s action film “The Tax Collector” which brought in USD $317 thousand at 129 venues which includes both cars and buildings. It is the the third new title (after “Trolls World Tour,” “The Rental”) to top the American box office since the pandemic began in mid-March. Oh Americans can’s get enough of “Star Wars” on the big screen either, with “The Empire Strikes Back” hanging on the charts at 260 sites, with USD $174 thousand, adding to its lifetime earnings are USD $292.1 million. Third up is Universal’s 1993 “Jurassic Park” taking a not-too-shabby USD $138 thousand from 235 locations, putting more in its lifetime piggy bank of USD $407.7 million. Falling to third, in its third weekend, is Dave Franco’s “The Rental” which cleared USD $1.178 million from a 3-day of USD $123 thousand with cumulative earnings of just over USD $4 million. The American box office is braced for the major circuits to reopen, with AMC, Regal, and Cinemark scheduled to throw open the big glass doors this coming coming weekend.

Although Gower Street, working with Comscore data, has calculated that the box office globally speaking has lost almost $18.9 billion, 74% behind a three-year average, things are looking up – which is good because the only way is up from here.

Karen Krizanovich

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