US box office records zero takings for first time ever as coronavirus crisis bites

The US box office has recorded zero revenue for the first time in history after the country’s near total cinema shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Data agency Comscore did not issue their weekly report after Hollywood’s major distributors, led by Disney, declined to issue any figures.

According to Comscore’s senior media analyst, Paul Dergarabedian, the only comparable occasion was in the immediate aftermath of the Northridge earthquake in 1994, which hampered collection of data, but its commercial effects were limited to California. With major chains such as Regal and AMC shutting down last week, the halting of cinema income is far more profound.

Even so, some films are reporting revenue. The box office leader, according to Box Office Mojo, is the midlife-crisis comedy Phoenix, Oregon, which has taken $3,842 from 17 screens. However, this is the outcome of a streaming partnership with individual cinemas, in which audiences can watch the film at home with a box-office split with a nominated venue. The film tweeted a tongue-in-cheek message congratulating itself on becoming the “lowest-grossing #1 film of all time”.

According to Deadline, however, the latest Disney/Pixar film Onward is playing at 135 locations and grossed $71,000, while horror film The Invisible Man has taken $64,000 from 111 venues. This appears to have mostly accrued from drive-in cinemas, with the Glendale Drive-In in Glendale, Arizona becoming Onward’s biggest-earning venue.

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