With the announcement that Cinemark is closing its 345 US theaters, that means that the vast majority of domestic cinemas are now closed due to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This means that, for the first time, the box office is effectively non-existent in the US, leaving many studios to wonder just how long this is going to last? And if it does last, how much money is going to be lost?
Well, according to Deadline, if the closures remain the same until the end of May (which is what AMC has said could be the length of time its cinemas remain shuttered), studios could lose as much as $2 billion. In 2019, the total domestic box office for the year was only $11.3 billion, meaning that we are looking at a huge loss for Hollywood, as the film industry begins to forecast the total effects of COVID-19.
As of today, only 20% of the theaters in the US remain open, which is likely to decrease over time, as it’s clear that no studio is willing to release a new film anytime soon. So, the only thing that people are now wondering is whether or not the second-half of 2020 can rebound and make up some of the lost ground. At this point, any speculation about this is purely without solid information, as no one knows for sure how long this pandemic will continue to keep theaters closed.
The report claims that theaters and studios are exploring options as to how the landscape could look when restrictions are loosened and doors can reopen. Will cinemas open slowly, only allowing 50% occupancy? Will studios immediately start to release films or will they need to restart their marketing campaigns to regain momentum before a debut? Deadline even said that sporting events, which are huge marketing opportunities for blockbuster films like “Black Widow,” would probably need to be back at full strength before films could return. And when they do return, how will studios like Disney juggle their 2020 schedules, as they attempt to release films like “Mulan” and “Black Widow,” while also potentially delaying other major releases?
Ultimately, not much is known at this time. However, as we begin to take a look at how badly coronavirus has already affected the film industry, the financial impact is staggering and worrisome, to say the least.