Box Office Newcomers Struggling as Coronavirus Crisis Slows Moviegoing

Dave McNary

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As the coronavirus pandemic brings moviegoing to a halt in multiple countries, it’s slowing down attendance at North American multiplexes. 

The openings for “I Still Believe,” “Bloodshot” and “The Hunt” are all coming in below expectations.

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Disney-Pixar’s “Onward” is heading for a repeat victory at the box office with about $16 million at 4,310 locations, with a steep decline of 60% from its launch, early estimates showed on Friday.

The new entries arrive amid massive uncertainty surrounding day-to-day activities due to the coronavirus crisis. AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cineplex have been cutting seating capacity by half, while Alamo Drafthouse is installing “buffer” seats on either side of customers’ seats as a cautionary measure.

Additionally, the crisis is upending the upcoming schedule of high-profile titles during the rest of March and April, with “No Time to Die,” “Mulan,” “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part 2” all facing release delays.

Onward” opened last weekend with $39.1 million, the low end of pre-release forecasts and the smallest domestic launch ever for a Pixar title. The movie centers on a pair of teenage elf brothers — voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland — on a quest to resurrect their deceased father with magical. “Onward” should finish the frame with around $67 million in its first 10 days in North America.

Lionsgate’s opening of faith-based drama “I Still Believe” is leading the rest of the pack with about $10 million at 3,250 sites, coming in at the low end of expectations. Sony’s launch of Vin Diesel’s superhero actioner “Bloodshot” will take in about $7 million at 2,861 venues, well below the studio forecast.

Universal’s debut of its satirical thriller “The Hunt” is battling the studio’s third weekend of horror hit “The Invisible Man” for fourth place in the $5 million to $6 million range. Universal had said it expected the controversial title, which has been delayed for six months, would open in the high single digits. “The Invisible Man” will wind up the weekend with around $65 million in its first 17 days.

“I Still Believe” is based on the life of contemporary Christian singer Jeremy Camp (played by “Riverdale” star KJ Apa) and his first wife (Britt Robertson), who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after they wed. The film is directed by siblings Andrew and Jon Erwin, who also helmed 2018’s “I Can Only Imagine,” which debuted with $17 million and went on to earn more than $83 million.

“Bloodshot” took in $1.2 million at 2,631 North American locations during Thursday night previews. The film is an adaptation of the Valiant Comics character, and centers on a Marine who was killed in action and brought back to life with superhuman abilities. The cast also includes Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell and Guy Pearce. “Bloodshot” carries a price tag of $45 million, and is financed by Sony, Bona Film Group and Cross Creek Pictures.

“The Hunt” was delayed prior to its planned opening last September amid controversy following a series of mass shootings. The film, starring Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank, depicts elites who kidnap and prey on average Americans for sport. Critics have given “The Hunt” mixed reviews and it carries a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Focus Features’ platform launch of the teen drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is coming in at about $30,000 at four locations. The film focuses on two cousins from Pennsylvania who travel to New York City following an unplanned pregnancy. It won the Silver Bear Grand Jury award last month at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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