Movie ticket sales saw their lowest numbers in two decades this past weekend in the U.S., with the coronavirus fears keeping many filmgoers in the confines of their own homes instead.
Theater ticket sales fell 44 percent from just a week prior, with $55.3 million total sales across the country.
That led to new debuts like superhero flick “Bloodshot” and satirical horror film “The Hunt” underperforming — not for reasons related to the films themselves, but because of social distancing mandates and fear of the coronavirus.
The lone exception to the rule was a religious film, “I Still Believe,” which seemed to break through the low ticket sales with the highest number of any movie that debuted this weekend. The film, the true-life story of Christian musician Jeremy Camp and his wife, Melissa Henning-Camp, who contracted cancer on their honeymoon, raked in sales of $9.5 million from the 3,250 theaters where it played.
The film, directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin and made for less than $10 million, did not receive particularly good reviews, though viewers gave it an 'A' grade via CinemaScore.
By contrast, “Bloodshot” scored around $9.3 million domestically, with additional earnings from overseas sales. “The Hunt” fell short of expectations with only $5.3 million earned. Neither film received kind reviews.
“The Hunt” was initially supposed to be released last fall, but its premise, centered around a group of elites hunting strangers for sport, drew criticism from conservatives, including President Donald Trump. The film was shelved after back-to-back shootings in Texas and Ohio, and finally released this month.
As the coronavirus has continued to upend almost every aspect of American life, theater chains Regal and AMC have done their best to maintain a balance between safety and profit, reducing capacities by 50 percent so people aren’t as closely packed together.
The low ticket sales are possibly the worst Hollywood has seen since scores for ticketing data began to be compiled in the 1980s. The next-worst weekend was in September of 2000, which had $54.5 million in sales — which would be equivalent to around $83 million today.
But as movie ticket sales fall off, Americans will be looking at other modes of entertainment during the viral pandemic.