Long Range Box Office Tracking (April 16 Update): Disney Shuffles Pixar’s Soul to Holiday 2020 Season; Nolan’s Tenet Now De Facto Summer Opener in July

Photo Credits: Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, Nicola Dove (© 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

Thursday, April 16 Update: Although the news of release delays and new dates are beginning to slow down with the bulk of the 2020 calendar through summer having been addressed recently, this week still hasn’t been without a few significant developments.

Most notably, Disney confirmed it will push Pixar’s Soul from its original June 19 release to the holiday corridor later in the year with a November 20 opening, six days before Thanksgiving.

In effect, although a few June titles have yet to be officially delayed, this means Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is now tentatively planned as the first summer tentpole of summer 2020. Warner Bros. is holding to its planned July 17 release for the time being, but in the current climate, anything can change at any time.

Soul‘s delay not only positions the anticipated original film as Q4’s tentpole animated release, it sets the market up for a big holiday season that now boasts Black Widow (November 6), Godzilla vs. Kong (November 20), Soul itself (November 20), No Time to Die (November 25), Free Guy (December 11), Dune (December 18), and Top Gun: Maverick (December 23).

While possible that one or two of those will still be reshuffled to new dates with the newfound competition planting their flags, even factoring that expectation in means the end of the year is looking far stronger than it once did — granted, as a result of COVID-19’s impact.

Additionally, Disney pushed Raya and the Last Dragon from its planned Thanksgiving 2020 release to March 12, 2021. Currently, it’s the only film planned to open that weekend and will follow one week after Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (March 5) and two weeks before Universal’s The Boss Baby 2 (March 26).

In reaction to Disney’s recent re-dating of Mulan for July 24 this summer, Paramount has again pushed The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run — though only by one week this time, from July 31 to August 7, in order to prevent direct competition for family audiences against the Disney remake.

Meanwhile, Paramount also shifted the Mark Walhberg sci-fi vehicle Infinite, directed by Antoine Fuqua, from August 7 this year to May 28, 2021.

Here is this week’s updated release calendar through September, beginning with (presumably) soon-to-be-delayed titles in June and early July that we expect to hear official studio announcements on within the coming weeks.

Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Tracking Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Range Domestic Total Forecast % Chg from Last Week Distributor
5/29/2020 Irresistible   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
6/12/2020 Greenland   n/a     n/a   STX
6/19/2020 Fatale   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate / Summit
                 
6/19/2020 The King of Staten Island   n/a     n/a   Universal
7/10/2020 Untitled Next Purge Chapter   n/a     n/a   Universal
7/17/2020 Tenet   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
7/24/2020 Come Play   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
7/24/2020 Mulan   n/a     n/a   Disney
7/31/2020 Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
7/31/2020 Untitled A24 Film   n/a     n/a   A24
8/7/2020 Empty Man   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
8/7/2020 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run   n/a     n/a   Paramount
8/14/2020 The One and Only Ivan   n/a     n/a   Disney
8/14/2020 Untitled Universal Event Film   n/a     n/a   Universal
8/14/2020 Wonder Woman 1984   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
8/21/2020 Bill & Ted Face the Music   n/a     n/a   United Artists Releasing
                 
8/21/2020 Let Him Go   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 The Hitman’s Bodyguard 2   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 Spell   n/a     n/a   Paramount
9/4/2020 The Beatles: Get Back   n/a     n/a   Disney
9/4/2020 Monster Hunter   n/a     n/a   Sony / Screen Gems
9/4/2020 A Quiet Place Part II   n/a     n/a   Paramount
9/4/2020 Unhinged   n/a     n/a   Solstice Studios
9/11/2020 The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros. / New Line
9/18/2020 The King’s Man   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
                 
9/18/2020 Connected   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
9/25/2020 Candyman (2020)   n/a     n/a   Universal
                 

Friday, April 10 Update: As expected, news on the release front has reached a grinding halt after most of the major studios announced sweeping changes down the calendar in recent weeks — capped by Disney’s slew of updates last Friday.

This week, only Universal and STX had news to report. The former has delayed Nobody from its original August 2020 date to February 26, 2021. That takes the place of an untitled M. Night Shyamalan project that the studio will re-date at a later time.

Meanwhile, STX has sold My Spy to Amazon Studios and the oft-delayed comedy will seemingly no longer get a theatrical release. It was most recently slated to open on April 17 and had been tracking modestly prior to theaters closing.

Less than a handful of titles remain on the calendar before mid-June when Disney still has Pixar’s Soul in position to tentatively open June 19 if theaters are ready by then, though we expect their respective studios to announce updates soon. Those include UAR’s Bad Trip (April 24), Focus Features’ Irresistible (May 29), and STX’s Greenland (June 12).

More Release Changes to Expect

Continuing on the speculative front, films moving into late 2020, 2021, and beyond are likely to impact more titles due to both release scheduling and production. Examples include:

  • Since Paramount re-dated A Quiet Place Part II for September 4 later this year, we can safely expect Warner Bros. to eventually shuffle The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It to another date. The latter horror sequel is still on the calendar for a September 11 release, but the studio won’t want to face such direct competition as what the Quiet Place sequel will provide in just its second week of play.

  • December is suddenly a bit crowded with Paramount’s move of Top Gun: Maverick to a December 23 release. That comes one week after Dune and Coming 2 America (both on December 18). While it’s common for multiple tentpoles to open and coexist around the holidays, those three films target similar adult male demographics. It’s likely either Dune or Coming 2 America — if not both — will be given new dates.

  • Looking outward to the first quarter of next year, Sony’s push of Ghostbusters: Afterlife from this summer to March 5 is notably the same weekend Warner Bros. had previously blocked for The Matrix 4. Given the latter film’s production interruption and the obvious crossover audience between the two franchises, Matrix will likely be pushed to a later date. (Paramount also still has a new Jackass slated for March 5.)

  • Later in March 2021, Sony now has the Marvel property Morbius scheduled for March 19 against UAR’s Tomb Raider 2. That sequel will likely move at some point.

  • Looking ahead to summer 2021, two major tentpoles — The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominion have been hit by production suspensions. It remains to be seen whether their releases will be impacted by filming delays, a domino effect from other studio titles being pushed down the pipeline, or both factors.

The June – September 2020 release table can still be found below, at the bottom of the April 3 update in this report.


Friday, April 3 Update: It’s been a week filled with seemingly countless release delays, and while that’s not-so-great news for the prospects of seeing new movies again in the immediate weeks, there is some positivity to glean in the fact that Disney, Warner Bros., and Paramount are apparently committing to the second half of this summer as a target for releasing new tentpoles.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, arguably the industry’s most prized box office possession right now as far as franchises are concerned, also received much anticipated news as to how it will be affected.

Essentially, all planned MCU releases for the next two years (excluding Sony’s third Spider-Man, for the time being) have been pushed back three-to-six months. Black Widow will now take The Eternals‘ original November 6, 2020 spot, which creates a domino effect of changes extending into 2022 that are detailed below.

Back on the 2020 front, following last week’s confirmation that Christopher Nolan’s Tenet will remain on its planned July 17 date, Disney announced today that Mulan has officially been re-dated for the following Friday, July 24. Paramount has also shuffled The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run from its original May release to July 31.

Additionally, Paramount officially reset A Quiet Place Part II for release on Labor Day weekend (September 4) later this year.

Of note, Disney did not update its planned June 19 release of Pixar’s Soul. If that date holds, at this stage, it would be the first major release to hit theaters after reopening — but we stress that anything can change in the current climate. Everything depends on the country and the world’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

That being said, four major studios unveiled a wide array of release shifts this week. Disney, Paramount, Sony, and Universal combined have dramatically reshaped the remaining 2020 calendar, as well as 2021’s and parts of 2022’s at this stage. This likely isn’t the final wave of updates from studios across the board, either.

The most notable domino effect: Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. Essentially, every

Collectively, here’s what’s changed (in chronological order based on new release dates) since our last update one week ago, followed by the full wide release calendar (as of today) through September 2020.

Rescheduled Films:

  • Mulan (reset for July 24, 2020)
  • The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (originally dated May 22, 2020, now July 31, 2020)
  • A Quiet Place Part II (reset for September 4, 2020)
  • Candyman (originally dated for June 12, 2020 to September 25, 2020)
  • The French Dispatch (originally dated July 24, 2020, now October 16, 2020)
  • Fatherhood (originally dated January 15, 2021, now October 23, 2020)
  • Black Widow (reset for November 6, 2020)
  • Free Guy (originally dated July 3, 2020, now December 11, 2020)
  • Top Gun: Maverick (originally dated June 24, 2020, now December 23, 2020)
  • Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (originally dated August 7, 2020, now January 15, 2021)
  • The Eternals (originally dated November 6, 2020, now February 12, 2021)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife (originally dated July 10, 2020, now March 5, 2021)
  • Morbius (originally dated July 31, 2020, now March 19, 2021)
  • Bob’s Burgers (originally dated July 17, 2020, now April 9, 2021)
  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (originally dated February 12, 2021, now May 7, 2021)
  • Jungle Cruise (originally dated July 24, 2020, now July 30, 2021)
  • Uncharted (originally dated March 5, 2021, now October 8, 2021)
  • Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (originally dated May 7, 2021, now November 5, 2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (originally dated November 5, 2021, now February 18, 2022)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (replaces untitled Marvel dated on July 29, 2022, now set for July 8, 2022)
  • Untitled Indiana Jones (originally dated July 9, 2021, now July 29, 2022)

Unset & Misc. Releases:

  • Greyhound (originally dated for June 12, 2020, now unset)
  • Praise This (originally dated for September 25, 2020, now unset)
  • Run Sweetheart Run (originally dated for May 8, 2020, now unset)
  • The Tomorrow War (originally dated for December 25, 2020, now unset)
  • Untitled Sony / Marvel (originally dated October 8, 2021, now unset)
  • Artemis Fowl (originally dated May 29, 2020, now debuting on Disney+)

Limited / Wide Release Calendar through September 2020:

Note: We’re excluding any wide releases scheduled before June 19, 2020 whose studios haven’t updated their release dates yet.)

Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Tracking Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Range Domestic Total Forecast % Chg from Last Week Distributor
6/19/2020 Fatale   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate / Summit
6/19/2020 Kajillionaire   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
6/19/2020 The King of Staten Island   n/a     n/a   Universal
6/19/2020 Soul   n/a     n/a   Disney / Pixar
7/10/2020 Untitled Next Purge Chapter   n/a     n/a   Universal
7/17/2020 Tenet   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
7/24/2020 Come Play   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
7/24/2020 Mulan   n/a     n/a   Disney
7/31/2020 Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
7/31/2020 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run   n/a     n/a   Paramount
7/31/2020 Untitled A24 Film   n/a     n/a   A24
8/7/2020 Empty Man   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
8/7/2020 Infinite   n/a     n/a   Paramount
                 
8/14/2020 The One and Only Ivan   n/a     n/a   Disney
8/14/2020 Untitled Universal Event Film   n/a     n/a   Universal
8/14/2020 Wonder Woman 1984   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
8/21/2020 Bill & Ted Face the Music   n/a     n/a   United Artists Releasing
8/21/2020 The Untitled Fred Hampton Project   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
8/21/2020 Let Him Go   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 The Hitman’s Bodyguard 2   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 Spell   n/a     n/a   Paramount
9/4/2020 The Beatles: Get Back   n/a     n/a   Disney
9/4/2020 Monster Hunter   n/a     n/a   Sony / Screen Gems
9/4/2020 A Quiet Place Part II   n/a     n/a   Paramount
9/4/2020 Unhinged   n/a     n/a   Solstice Studios
9/11/2020 The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros. / New Line
9/18/2020 The King’s Man   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
9/18/2020 Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse   n/a     n/a   Paramount
9/18/2020 Connected   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
9/25/2020 Candyman (2020)   n/a     n/a   Universal
9/25/2020 Last Night In Soho   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
9/25/2020 The Many Saints of Newark   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.

Friday, March 27: News has slowed somewhat this week following a whirlwind middle of the month, but there remain a few key updates to highlight as we continue our look at the present and future states of the industry.

Warner Bros. joined in the chorus of release delays earlier this week, with two notable announcements:

  • Wonder Woman 1984 will shift from its planned June 5 opening to August 14. While fans may be disappointed to learn of the extra two-month wait, this is exactly the kind of popcorn event cinema that could rally moviegoers back to theaters. The August corridor is also a highly lucrative, late summer position given the success of past comic book blockbusters, specifically Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad.

  • Christopher Nolan’s Tenet will *remain* on its July 17 date for the time being. While there is no guarantee of that holding depending on how long it takes for the global recovery period to begin, this at least signals the studio is hopeful the large-scale original film can be one of the very first films to bring droves of moviegoers back into theaters.

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights has also been delayed from its planned June 26 opening due to an inability to finish post-production. A new date has not been set, but this is another film that could strike an emotional chord with audiences returning to cinemas when it does open.

  • Meanwhile, SCOOB! (originally dated for May 15) and James Wan’s Malignant (August 14) have been delayed with no new dates set.

Domestic Relief for Exhibition

In some encouraging news late this week, the United States Senate approved a relief package that will benefit distressed industries during this crisis – including exhibition and the film industry at-large. NATO issued its praise of the approval in a statement.

8-Week Domestic Window

For regular readers of this online report, we typically introduce first tracking and/or forecasts for new wide releases eight weeks out every Friday. This week, Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run was due to be covered. Although the studio has not yet moved its release date, we’re holding off on projections at this time given the uncertainty about whether or not theaters will be open at that time.

Below is the most current list of release shifts (latest updates highlighted in red), followed by the standing release calendar through August.

An updated list of wide release changes:

  • My Spy (originally dated March 13, now releasing April 17)
  • A Quiet Place Part II (originally dated March 20, now unset)
  • Mulan (originally dated March 27, now unset)
  • The Lovebirds (originally dated April 3, no longer a theatrical release)
  • New Mutants (originally dated April 3, now unset)
  • Peter Rabbit 2 (originally dated April 3, now releasing August 7)
  • No Time to Die (originally dated April 10, now releasing November 25)
  • Antlers (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Blue Story (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Trolls: World Tour (originally dated April 17, now releasing April 10)
  • Antebellum (originally dated April 24, now unset)
  • Black Widow (originally dated May 1, now unset)
  • Scoob (originally dated May 15, now unset)
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw (originally dated May 15, now unset)
  • The Woman in the Window (originally dated May 15, now unset)
  • F9 (originally dated May 22, now releasing April 2, 2021)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (originally dated June 5, now releasing August 14)
  • In the Heights (originally dated June 26, now unset)
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru (originally dated July 3, now unset)
  • Malignant (originally dated August 14, now unset)
Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Tracking Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Range Domestic Total Forecast % Chg from Last Week Distributor
4/10/2020 Trolls: World Tour   n/a     n/a   Universal
4/17/2020 My Spy   n/a     n/a   STX
4/24/2020 Bad Trip   n/a     n/a   United Artists Releasing
5/8/2020 Run Sweetheart Run   n/a     n/a   OTL Releasing / BH Tilt / Universal
5/22/2020 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run   n/a     n/a   Paramount
5/29/2020 Artemis Fowl   n/a     n/a   Disney
5/29/2020 Irresistible   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
6/12/2020 Candyman (2020)   n/a     n/a   Universal
6/12/2020 Greenland   n/a     n/a   STX
6/12/2020 Greyhound   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
6/19/2020 Fatale   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate / Summit
6/19/2020 Kajillionaire   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
6/19/2020 The King of Staten Island   n/a     n/a   Universal
6/19/2020 Soul   n/a     n/a   Disney / Pixar
6/24/2020 Top Gun: Maverick   n/a     n/a   Paramount
7/3/2020 Free Guy   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
7/10/2020 Ghostbusters: Afterlife   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
7/10/2020 Untitled Next Purge Chapter   n/a     n/a   Universal
7/17/2020 Bob’s Burgers   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
7/17/2020 Tenet   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
7/24/2020 Come Play   n/a     n/a   Focus Features
7/24/2020 Jungle Cruise   n/a     n/a   Disney
7/31/2020 Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
7/31/2020 Morbius   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
7/31/2020 Untitled A24 Film   n/a     n/a   A24
8/7/2020 Empty Man   n/a     n/a   20th Century Studios
8/7/2020 Infinite   n/a     n/a   Paramount
8/7/2020 Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway   n/a     n/a   Sony / Columbia
8/14/2020 Nobody   n/a     n/a   Universal
8/14/2020 The One and Only Ivan   n/a     n/a   Disney
8/14/2020 Untitled Universal Event Film   n/a     n/a   Universal
8/14/2020 Wonder Woman 1984   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
8/21/2020 Bill & Ted Face the Music   n/a     n/a   United Artists Releasing
8/21/2020 The Untitled Fred Hampton Project   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.
8/21/2020 Let Him Go   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 The Hitman’s Bodyguard 2   n/a     n/a   Lionsgate
8/28/2020 Spell   n/a     n/a   Paramount

Friday, March 20: As theaters continued to close this week, box office receipts have obviously come even closer to a stand still. Approximately 5,000 domestic locations are temporarily shut down as the country’s attempts to contain COVID-19 reaches unprecedented measures.

Recent developments:

  • Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. confirmed to us this morning that they will suspend box office reporting until further notice after today (Friday, March 20). Other major studios may follow suit, though that isn’t confirmed yet.

  • Further underlining why those studios made the aforementioned decision to pause reporting until theaters begin to re-open, this Wednesday’s domestic box office tallied just under $250K from the entire market — a drop of 81 percent from Tuesday and 96 percent from the previous Wednesday.

  • On Thursday, Universal announced it will delay the release of Minions: The Rise of Gru to an undetermined date. The film was initially planned to open on July 3. This isn’t necessarily a signal that studios are moving to delay even more major films due to closures, but rather because this film in particular is unable to finish post-production due to office closures in France.

    Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri said, “In response to the severity of the situation in France, we are temporarily closing our Illumination Mac Guff studio in Paris. With this decision we are abiding by the French Government’s guidelines and doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus as we care for our artists and their families. This means we will be unable to finish MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU in time for our planned global releases in late June and early July. While we all grapple with the enormity of this crisis, we must put the safety and protection of our employees above all. We look forward to finding a new release date for the return of Gru and the Minions.”

Lastly, this week’s updated report was set to provide a first forecast for Warner Bros.’ SCOOB!, currently planned for release on May 15. The studio has not made any announcements regarding a change in plans for the film’s launch. It’s entirely possible, given the eight-week lead time, theaters could re-open by then, but we’re erring on the side of caution for now and holding off on pre-release forecasts since that date lands within AMC’s own 6-to-12 week estimated closure.

The eight-week chart with studios’ most recently confirmed release dates has been updated at the bottom of this report.

An updated list of wide release changes:

  • My Spy (originally dated March 13, now releasing April 17)
  • A Quiet Place Part II (originally dated March 20, now unset)
  • Mulan (originally dated March 27, now unset)
  • The Lovebirds (originally dated April 3, now unset)
  • New Mutants (originally dated April 3, now unset)
  • Peter Rabbit 2 (originally dated April 3, now releasing August 7)
  • No Time to Die (originally dated April 10, now releasing November 25)
  • Antlers (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Blue Story (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Trolls: World Tour (originally dated April 17, now releasing April 10)
  • Antebellum (originally dated April 24, now unset)
  • Black Widow (originally dated May 1, now unset)
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw (originally dated May 15, now unset)
  • The Woman in the Window (originally dated May 15, now unset)
  • F9 (originally dated May 22, now releasing April 2, 2021)
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru (originally dated July 3, now undetermined)

Wednesday, March 18: In the days since this column’s previous update, AMC, Cinemark, and Regal have announced their temporary nationwide closures, effectively shutting down the top six exhibition chains in North America.

NATO issued a statement in response to this health crisis, reassuring the industry, its observers, and its fans that this is only a temporary measure and theaters will return to normal operations when this unfortunate situation passes.

On the film side of current developments, Disney confirmed to Boxoffice PRO on Tuesday that Marvel Studios’ Black Widow has been delayed to an undetermined date. It was previously scheduled to kick off the summer movie season with a global launch in late April and early May (May 1 domestically).

Disney also delayed The Woman in the Window (previously slated for wide release on May 15) to an undetermined date.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has delayed the release of Antebellum (previously April 24), Run (previously May 8), and Spiral: From the Book of Saw (previously May 15).

Lastly, Universal’s Trolls: World Tour will be released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming due to extenuating circumstances. As such, it has been removed from our forecast. This is considered a highly unique exception, not a new standard, as the studio recently showed commitment to the theatrical window by delaying F9 a full year in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All of the aforementioned updates are now reflected in the long range forecast chart below.

Prior to these announcements, domestic box office declined 47 percent from the previous weekend in reaction to last week’s unprecedented world developments mentioned in this post’s earlier reports.

There will be an obvious interruption to our usual forecasting, but in our aim to maintain as many norms as possible during this challenging time, we will continue to report as much relevant box office information as possible.

Given the mid-week closures of major theater circuits, we will be foregoing a weekend forecast this week as it remains unclear if more smaller theaters may opt to temporarily close before this weekend arrives.

However, we will continue to summarize any relevant news and announcements in the coming weeks here and across Boxoffice PRO. We fully expect this report to begin filling up with studio announcements of new release dates and theater chains detailing their re-opening plans as part of the eventual recovery process.


Saturday, March 14: Additional theater chains have announced they’ll be limiting capacity in domestic theaters starting today.

Following Thursday’s initial declines, we’re also able to further confirm COVID-19’s domestic box office impact with Friday results and initial weekend estimates.


March 13: It’s an unfortunate, but undeniable reality that we are living in unprecedented times right now. That’s a description being thrown around quite a bit these days, but an accurate one.

In recent days and weeks, COVID-19 has begun to show its clear and present impact on the upcoming domestic release slate. This follows measurable box office declines in territories like China, Italy, and South Korea, among others, due to theater closures and limited capacity enforcement.

As discussed in our weekend forecast earlier this week, in North America, the actual impact on box office attendance had remained negligible for the most part. Holdovers performed generally in line with expectations last weekend, although Onward slightly missed expectations in its debut. Initial day-to-day holds since then were also in line with past trends through Wednesday.

Since then, however, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in official terms, numerous entertainment and sporting events have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely, and a ban on many incoming European travelers to the United States will take effect Friday night.

The good news for moviegoers: For now, theaters remain open nationwide, although New York is employing partial capacity requirements for venues and events of 500 people or less.

That latter development could become highly relevant in box office forecasts for the short term if and when more localized regions are forced into similar circumstances, but it is an unknown and speculative situation at this time.

(Update: Shortly after this report’s original publishing, AMC confirmed that it will place a 50 percent capacity limit on all theaters nationwide and none of its auditoriums will be allowed more than 250 attendees, effective March 14 through at least April 30.)

(2nd Update: Additional theater chains have confirmed limited capacity plans, which you can read more about in our report here.)

For another silver lining, though, China may be in the process of readying its exhibition market to reopen in the coming weeks. While not confirmed, this is the kind of long-view positive note that will be important for us all to keep in mind in the challenging weeks ahead.

Domestic Box Office Outlook

Following this week’s news, we’ve begun to see preliminary data points suggesting COVID-19’s imminent impact on domestic box office performance. Although not all studios and films have reported Thursday’s (March 12) results yet, a sample of 18 films that have been reported so far indicates an average drop of about 28 percent from Wednesday earnings.

It’s highly unusual for multiple, sharp Thursday drops without holiday considerations, premium screen losses to Thursday night openers, or major new releases in general. For example, the average Wednesday-to-Thursday decline of the top twenty films last Thursday, March 5 was just over 10 percent. On Thursday, March 12, high profile titles like The Way Back, Bad Boys for Life, and Birds of Prey slid between 25 and 32 percent from their prior Wednesday grosses.

(Of note, though, kid-driven films like Onward and Sonic the Hedgehog eased a less-alarming 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively.)

While we continue analyzing the data as it comes in day-to-day, this is likely the first verifiable sign of audiences in the U.S. taking heed of medical experts’ advice to practice social distancing in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus as quickly and safely as possible. The question is whether or not Thursday’s developing data points will become a trend or prove to be just an initial reaction to the whirlwind of this week’s (especially Wednesday’s) news cycle. It’s an unknown element we simply cannot do more than speculate on at this time.

With that said, movies are a secondary concern right now, but forecasting models will be highly volatile for the foreseeable future and this will weekly report will continue in its best efforts to assess the current and upcoming market trends with all factors in mind.

Major Release Delays and Updates

Below is a list of major changes recently announced by various studios, including a number of key Spring 2020 titles that have been delayed to later and unknown dates.

Most of these were included in previous Long Range reports (excluding F9), and a couple of changes were previously reported last week, but this (and the updated forecast chart below) will offer a clearer view of how slim the early spring slate will now look as we all hope for this health crisis to be resolved in the near future.

  • My Spy (originally dated March 13, now releasing April 17)
  • A Quiet Place Part II (originally dated March 20, now unset)
  • Mulan (originally dated March 27, now unset)
  • The Lovebirds (originally dated April 3, now unset)
  • New Mutants (originally dated April 3, now unset)
  • Peter Rabbit 2 (originally dated April 3, now releasing August 7)
  • No Time to Die (originally dated April 10, now releasing November 25)
  • Antlers (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Blue Story (originally dated April 17, now unset)
  • Trolls: World Tour (originally dated April 17, now releasing April 10)
  • F9 (originally dated May 22, now releasing April 2, 2021)

Needless to say, this list includes several heavy-hitting, multi-hundred-million-dollar performers that will unavoidably leave an absence impossible to fill.

It’s also unknown at this time if anymore changes will occur — particularly ones whose release dates are still positioned in April. We will continue to monitor all updates as studios report them, and we’re confident moviegoers will be eager to support the delayed films in theaters when day-to-day life returns to normal.

For now, keeping in mind that theaters do remain open across most of the nation as of this writing and many will still seek out that necessary escapism, we’ll continue to forecast based on the most reasonable models possible in this day-to-day climate. This week, that includes the addition of Lionsgate’s Run to the report, which is slated to open over Mother’s Day weekend on May 8.

In the mean time, our thoughts, best wishes, and hopes for a speedy recovery go out to everyone affected by COVID-19.

8-Week Tracking and Forecasts

Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Tracking Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Range Domestic Total Forecast % Chg from Last Week Distributor
4/10/2020 Trolls: World Tour   n/a     n/a   Universal
4/17/2020 My Spy   n/a     n/a   STX
4/24/2020 Bad Trip   n/a     n/a   United Artists Releasing
5/8/2020 Run Sweetheart Run   n/a     n/a   OTL Releasing / BH Tilt / Universal
5/15/2020 SCOOB!   n/a     n/a   Warner Bros.

Contact us for information about subscribing to Boxoffice’s suite of forecasting and data services.