pandemic box office

There’s nothing better to inject some life into the pandemic box office than a little bit of Disney magic. The Disney catalog joined Universal films in playing in the few theaters that are still open while the majority of the country’s 5,900 theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Disney’s Zootopia led the pandemic box office this week, followed closely by Marvel’s The Avengers, both taking in grosses in the $200,000 range — still meager earnings for the struggling box office.

Deadline reports that Disney took the top two spots at the floundering box office this weekend, with Disney’s 2016 Oscar-winning hit Zootopia earning the most with an estimated $280,000, bringing its lifetime total to $341.5 million. Marvel’s The Avengers would follow at a close second, with an estimated $260,000, bringing its lifetime gross to $623.5 million. However, the two films failed to surpass the earnings made by Universal’s re-releases of Jurassic Park and Jaws last weekend, at $517,000 and $516,000, respectively.

This is the first time Disney has released their catalog titles during the pandemic period, though Onward has been in circulation since mid-March and 20th Century’s The Greatest Showman has been playing at several locations. With the (relative) success of Zootopia and The Avengers, it’s likely we could see more re-releases from the House of Mouse.

Most of the films that are playing at the remaining open 1,100 or so theaters (with drive-ins making up 300 of those and driving the bulk of the sales, per Deadline) are catalog titles, like Warner Bros. re-releases of The Goonies, Batman, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Paramount’s Grease, the Indiana Jones movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Footloose. It’s rare you’ll find a new release cracking the top 10, but Focus Features’ Irresistible, directed by Jon Stewart, managed to do so, grossing $100,000 at the 238 venues where it played.

Deadline reports that of the top 135 grossing theaters, 104 are drive-ins. But regular theaters are still struggling, with none of them making more than $20,000 for the weekend. Even so, it seems unlikely we’ll have a summer movie season at all, as coronavirus cases spike and exhibition chains push back reopenings by several weeks.

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