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Coronavirus outbreak halts box office reporting as movies shift to home viewing

By The Los Angeles Times (TNS) - Mar 24,2020 - Last updated at Mar 24,2020

Elisabeth Moss in Universal and Blumhouse’s “The Invisible Man” which launched on VOD this week in the wake of global theatre closures due to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo courtesy of imdb.com)

As Hollywood continues to take measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, spring’s most anticipated blockbusters have been postponed indefinitely and movie theatres around the globe have shuttered.

Now studios are opting out of reporting box office figures at all for the foreseeable future, according to a statement from measurement firm Comscore, marking the first time the company (which was preceded by Rentrak and Nielsen EDI) has interrupted its weekly box office reporting since the early 1980s. (Even during the 1994 Northridge quake, which affected all of Southern California’s movie studios, partial reporting was released.)

“Due to this unprecedented situation, Comscore will be temporarily suspending our usual Sunday North American Top 10 Estimates, Global chart and commentary,” the statement read. “We will update the status of studio reporting.”

Last weekend, city officials in Los Angeles and New York ordered cinemas and other venues to close, causing box office receipts to plummet to historic lows.

AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the three largest theatre chains, all announced that they’d be shutting down nationwide, indefinitely. And with major spring releases including “No Time to Die,” “Peter Rabbit 2,” “A Quiet Place: Part II,” “F9,” “Mulan” and “Black Widow” suspending their releases for months, the landscape for in-theatre moviegoing appears bleak at least through May. (Warner Bros. still has the sequel “Wonder Woman 1984" on the schedule for the first weekend in June.)

Disney announced Thursday that “given the current large number of theatre shutdowns around the globe,” it would suspend global weekend reporting “for the time being.”

Several studios have already announced plans to move their recent releases to video-on-demand. In fact, all of last weekend’s top 10 films now have VOD plans, with the exception of 20th Century Studios’ “Call of the Wild” and Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life.”

Today Disney revealed the early digital release of Pixar’s “Onward,” which had been the No. 1 film for two consecutive weekends. It now will be available for digital download in the United States on Friday night. It hits Disney+ streaming on April 3.

Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” Lionsgate’s “I Still Believe,” Sony’s “Bloodshot” and Warner Bros.’ “The Way Back” and “Birds of Prey” also will land on VOD in the coming weeks.

Universal made recent theatrical releases “The Hunt,” “Emma” and “The Invisible Man” available for digital rental as of today. And the studio’s “Trolls World Tour” is still scheduled to hit whatever theatres might play it April 10, with a simultaneous digital launch that day.

 

By Sonaiya Kelley

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