March 15, 2020

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 3.15.2020


This was the weekend that the COVID-19 crisis hit the box office in earnest, and while that fact pales in importance compared to the human cost of the pandemic, it’s going to represent a multi-billion dollar hit that will reverberate through the lives of many throughout the world.  As bad as the numbers below are, over at least the next several weeks things will get even worse, as the major studios have removed all their openings from the schedule through April save one (Trolls World Tour, for some reason)l, and theatres will increasingly close.  As with all crises, this one will eventually end, but its aftereffects are likely to be felt for years to come.

OPENINGS:  I STILL BELIEVE (Lionsgate) held up reasonably well compared to expectations with $9.5M, although that number was bolstered by mid-week previews and advance bookings from church groups.  Even so, it was well below the $17.1M start for I Can Only Imagine, the similarly themed Christian-plus-music bio from the same filmmakers.  Even in a normal market, this genre delivers most of its box office in the US (I Can Only Imagine earned only 3% of its worldwide boxoffice overseas), and I Still Believe has so far had a negligible international release.

BLOODSHOT (Bona/Cross Creek/Columbia/Sony) had more or less the US/international breakdown that one would expect for a big-name action movie, with $9.3M here and $15.1M overseas (from 50 markets).  Both of those numbers, however, were low, and with something like $100M in production/marketing costs, Bloodshot is unlikely to be profitable.

THE HUNT (Blumhouse/Universal) has become the poster child for cinematic bad luck.  Its originally scheduled opening last fall was pushed at the last minute after it became a right-wing talking point, only to be postponed into the middle of a pandemic.  Reviews were mixed, and The Hunt may have been problematic at the box office regardless of its opening date, but it was particularly weak at $5.3M (plus $700K from 4 overseas markets).  Despite its low-cost Blumhouse pedigree, it had to bear a double helping of marketing costs, and doesn’t have much of a future.

HOLDOVERS:  ONWARD (Pixar/Disney) slumped by 73% to $10.5M, and although part of that was certainly attributable to the ongoing crisis, it also represented the worst hold in the Top 10, suggesting that even beyond those outside factors, audiences were less than enthused.  It may reach $85M in the US, which would make The Good Dinosaur‘s $123.1M seem like a smash by comparison.  Onward has $41.4M overseas after a $6.8M weekend in what was left of the market in 47 territories.

THE INVISIBLE MAN (Blumhouse/Universal) fell 60% to $6M in its 3rd weekend, and may reach $75M in the US, potentially the last profitable Hollywood release we’ll see in a while.  Overseas, it’s at $58.3M after a $6.2M weekend in 65 markets.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (Paramount) dropped 67% to $2.6M in its 5th weekend, on its way to $150M in the US.  It has $160.7M overseas.

THE WAY BACK (BRON/Warners) plunged 70% from last week’s opening to $2.4M, and it probably won’t see $20M in the US.  It’s barely opened overseas.

THE CALL OF THE WILD (20th/Disney) lost 67% to $2.2M in its 4th weekend, unlikely to reach $70M in the US.  Overseas, it has $45.2M.

EMMA (Focus/Universal) got walloped in its 2nd wide weekend, down 72% to $1.4M, with a probable US total under $15M.  It’s earned $15.1M overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The low-key abortion drama NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS (Focus/Universal) was probably never going to be a breakout hit, but on this dire weekend it opened with a dim $4500 per-theatre average at 4 NY/LA arthouses.  THE ROADS NOT TAKEN (Bleecker Street) was even worse with a $1300 average at 3.  It was a bad time to expand, and the victims included HOPE GAP (Roadside) at 132 with a $400 average, EXTRA ORDINARY (Good Deed) at 78 with a $600 average, BURDEN (101) at 109 with a $400 average, WENDY (Searchlight/Disney) at 165 with a $250 average, THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY (Sony Classics) at 15 with a $1200 average, and ORDINARY LOVE (Bleecker Street) at 76 with a $200 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  With the postponement of A Quiet Place Part II, the only notable opening currently on the calendar is the limited release of film festival favorite THE CLIMB (Sony Classics).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."