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Domestic Box Office Has Had 25 Percent Drop Year-Over-Year

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

No surprise here: the North American box office has taken a big hit. The COVID-19 pandemic has made its mark on many industries. Given that the exhibition industry relies on people sitting in a room together for a couple of hours at a time, you knew it would affect theaters. Since March 20 of this year, most cinemas have been shuttered so as to encourage social distancing practices to help curb the rise of the pandemic. 

But how much has this affected the North American box office? Quite a bit. According to THR, box office revenue has faced a 25 percent year-over-year decline. That means it has a deficit of $600 million for the first quarter of 2020. Of course, the box office was already a tad low in its first quarter, but the majority of this hurt is the result of the pandemic. This is pretty crazy since, it’s likely the result of about a month’s worth of ticket sales. Even before there were social distancing orders, the box office was facing some shallow returns thanks to the pandemic scare.

Last year, the box office made $2.41 billion its first quarter. By comparison, 2020 has seen $1.81 billion. However, those numbers only go through March 19, which is the last day grosses were being reported by theaters.

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March itself is quite telling. 2020 only saw $255.7 million in revenue while 2019 saw $612.8 million. I’m sure some of it has to do with middling efforts at the beginning of the month, but I”m also sure a good chunk of it had to do with audiences being too scared to go to the theaters. I know I try to get to the theaters at least a couple of times a month, but I didn’t even bother thanks to the growing pandemic. 

This is not even mentioning the money studios are losing by shifting their releases to later in the year. All that money in advertising has essentially gone down the drain, so it’s going to take a lot more for their big-budget films to break even. 

When all said and done, THR states that theater owners could ultimately lose $15 to $17 billion if things remain shuttered by the end of May. 

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