Onward Wins, Box Office Loses

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The winner this weekend? The coronavirus.

It was inevitable, really. With Hollywood pushing off new releases and many cities and states restricting large gatherings, the box office was going to be a COVID-19 casualty whether anyone else got sick or not. And indeed, the average city multiplex was so deserted you’d be liable to see a tumbleweed bounce past the concession stand.

The 45 movies playing in North American theaters this weekend earned a total of about $55.3 million, according to Variety. That’s the lowest total box-office gross in 20 years. Not since Keanu Reeves’ The Watcher won the weekend of Sept. 15, 2000, has the movie industry made so little money.

Pixar’s Onward managed to repeat at No. 1, earning a scant $10.5 million. That’s about a fourth of the $39.1 million the animated fantasy collected last weekend, and its economic prospects are unlikely to improve in the near future.

In a weekend in which every film was battered by the coronavirus, the Christian film I Still Believe fared better than most. It finished second with $9.5 million—a fine showing for any faith-based production, but particularly impressive in the current climate. And while secular critics weren’t enamored with the flick, audiences loved it: According to Box Office Mojo, I still Believe earned an “A” grade from CinemaScore audiences, and it currently has a 98% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Vin Diesel’s weird sci-fi film Bloodshot nearly upended I Still Believe for second place, but its $9.3 million finally settled it into third.

The Invisible Man still wants to be seen. Its own box-office returns fell “just” 60%, giving it a weekend haul of about $6 million. That pushes its total haul to a very visible $64.4 million.

The Hunt, the weekend’s third wide release flick, didn’t fare as well. Despite ample pre-release buzz (the film was originally set to play last fall before its controversial premise and a couple of tragic mass shootings scuttled its release), The Hunt could only track down $5.3 million.

Will the box office bounce back next weekend? Doubtful. Without a new wide-release film on the docket, and with the possibility of more shutdowns, theaters may need to start stocking up on Tumbleweed-B-Gone spray.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

library_girl 8 days ago
I really liked Onward - hopefully they'll re-release it once theatres are open again! 
Edna Konrad 12 days ago
Considering that all restaurants have just been shut down in my state until May 11, along with museums, zoos, libraries, and churches, I assume theaters will not be far behind. The government seems to be taking this very seriously now.