Sunday February 23, 2020
Box Office: Coronavirus Shutters Chinese Theaters
Not much on the domestic box-office front to report. “Sonic the Hedgehog” fell 55% but still won the weekend with $26 million. “Call of the Wild” debuted and finished second with $24.8 million. Both are in the low 60s on Rotten Tomatoes and look awful. “Birds of Prey” finished third in its third weekend with $7 mil. It's now at $75.2 and seems likely to be the first DCEU movie to not break $100 mil. Previous low was “Shazam!”'s $140. Lowest in MCU is “Incredible Hulk” (the Ed Norton one) with $134. But that was 12 years ago.
That said, the U.S. market is doing great compared with China.
I'd totally missed out on this story, this obvious story. On Mojo, I looked at the numbers to try to figure out the year's big Chinese New Year movie. This is from today:
|Weekend||Overall Gross||Releases||#1 Release|
|Feb 7-9||$3,956||1||Fighting with My Family|
|Jan 31-Feb 2||$27,754||2||Knives Out|
|Jan 24-26||$88,673||4||Spies in Disguise|
|Jan 17-19||$32,717,677||47||Sheep Without a Shepherd|
Immediate thought: Wait, didn't Chinese New Year already happen? Yes. It began the last week in January. So why weren't the numbers bigger?
Second thought: Wait, “Fighting with My Family”? That WWE thing from last year? Where are the Chinese movies?
Third: Wait, $3,956 total? And that was ... two weekends ago?
The other shoe finally dropped on my idiot self: Coronavirus.
The Chinese government actually shuttered movie theaters in January—just as Chinese New Year was happening. Brutal. Imagine American movie theaters being closed just as soon as kids got out of school or during Xmas break. Like that but maybe combined. And this was the year China was predicted to surpass the U.S. as the biggest movie audience in the world. Not likely now, particularly with no end in sight for the Coronavirus.
So are no theaters anywhere in China open? Yep, none. From a story in the Hollywood Reporter a month ago:
Among the big-budget movies that had been set for release on Saturday were Wanda's comedy-action sequel Detective Chinatown 3, Huanxi Media's comedy tentpole Lost in Russia, sports epic Leap, Jackie Chan‘s Vanguard, Dante Lam’s action flick The Rescue and family animation Boonie Bears: The Wild Life, among several others (local regulators have always blocked Hollywood films from releasing during the festival period, giving local studios an uncontested run at the box office).
In the “Detective Chinatown” series, the first was set in Thailand, the second in the U.S. (New York), and the third scheduled for Japan. In the “Lost” series it went Thailand, Hong Kong (homages galore), to Russia.