The domestic box office has hit zero for the first time in 26 years. The coronavirus pandemic has forced theaters all over North America to close their doors. Last Wednesday, there were only 400 theaters open out of nearly 6,000 and now there are less than 300. As a result, there has been a surge in drive-in theater attendance, but those are pretty hard to find and are not reported for box office totals. The last time this happened was in the winter of 1994 during the Northridge earthquake, but it was only for one weekend.
Disney was the first major studio to announce that they were done with box office reporting for the time being. Their statement read, "Given the current large number of theater shutdowns around the globe, Disney will suspend global weekend reporting for the time being." They then wished everybody well. From there, all of the major studios followed suit and ceased delivering box office numbers. Measurement firm Comscore had this to say in a statement.
"Due to this unprecedented situation, Comscore will be temporarily suspending our usual Sunday North American Top 10 Estimates, Global chart and commentary. We will update the status of studio reporting on Monday."
Theaters will continue to close down until they're all dark due to the coronavirus pandemic. At first, theaters decided to practice social distancing, only selling about half of the seats in order to allow people to be at least 6 feet away from each other. However, it was quickly proven that was not going to be enough, so people have been told to stay home and only go outdoors for essential items and exercise. Thankfully, some studios are coming through with entertainment for everybody.
Disney released Frozen 2 three months early on it's streaming platform Disney+, and Universal Pictures has made The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma available to rent digitally. All three movies are technically still in theaters. Sony is releasing Bloodshot digitally and other studios are starting to follow suit. It's an interesting time for the entertainment business at the moment, which is seeing some experimentation that could impact the way movies are released in the future. For now, we'll just have to see how long we're all supposed to stay indoors and avoid large gatherings.
AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the three largest theater chains in North America, all announced that they'd be shutting down nationwide. AMC estimates that they will be closed for at least eight to twelve weeks, though it could be much longer. Theaters are now looking to the government to help out with funds until something changes. Smaller theaters could get shut down forever, along with other smaller businesses unless something changes, and quickly. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report on the box office hitting zero for the first time since 1994.