As the days tick by, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to continue to wreak havoc on the lives of people around the world for weeks, if not months, to come. That is leading analysts in the film industry to wonder what the 2020 box office totals will look like when everything is all said and done. The verdict? Pretty grim.
According to THR, analysts at Gower Street Analytics have released their predictions for what the North American box office could look like depending on when the domestic cinemas reopen. Currently, AMC Theatres (which is likely on its way to bankruptcy) is expected to begin reopening its locations in June. If that date holds, that would be a total of three months that theaters will be shut down across North America. And depending on how fast film fans return to cinemas, the domestic box office could struggle to earn $7 billion in 2020, as compared to the $11.4 billion in 2019, a drop of roughly 40%.
However, that assumes customers will return to theaters immediately, and at the same numbers as previous years. However, with many theaters planning a way to reopen with reduced capacities and catalog films instead of first-run features, we could be looking at a realistic chance that “normal” theater occupancy isn’t achieved until mid-July when Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” is expected to arrive. If that’s the case, the scenario would put the domestic box office at an estimated $6.36 billion for 2020, the worst yearly performance since the late-‘90s.
Again, as we continue to point out when we discuss the theater closures in the US, particularly, it’s beginning to look unlikely that the June reopening date is realistic. With the death toll continuing to rise at an alarming rate, and social gathering restrictions staying in place for the foreseeable future, it’s clear that this COVID-19 pandemic will take a while before it’s under control in the US.
And when you look at where we are now, as compared to one month ago, it’s a bit of a moot point to even postulate what the country will look like in another 30 or even 60 days. But one thing is certain, the theatrical exhibition industry is going to suffer some major losses in 2020.