Nolte: Coronavirus Catastrophe at Thanksgiving Box Office

DreamWorks Animation/Universal

The Croods: New Age, the top movie over the Thanksgiving weekend, grossed a terrible $14.2 million. That was over the five-day weekend — meaning Wednesday through Sunday. Over three days (Friday- Sunday), it grossed just $9.7 million.

A good faith look at the top ten movies over Thanksgiving weekend finds that they did not top $20 million total. What I mean is that all ten movies did not bring in more than $20 million together. Three of the movies in the top ten are old enough to drive: Elf (2003), The Santa Clause (1994), and Christmas Vacation (1989).

What’s interesting, though, is that Croods: New Age bottomed out with just $14.2 million over five days, even though it was released in 2,211 theaters. That’s a lot of theaters. Granted, that’s about half the number of theaters it would have been released into in pre-coronavirus America but that’s still a sizable number of theaters, enough theaters — even with social distancing, to gross a respectable amount, which tells me that even though theaters are open near them, people are still not going to the movies.

For example, last Thanksgiving, Frozen II was playing on 4,440 screens and grossed $34.1 million on Thanksgiving Day alone. Just on that one day. Over that five day weekend, it cleared $110 million on only twice as many screens as the Croods. I should also point out that was Frozen II’s second weekend, not its opening weekend.

So the number of screens is not the problem in the age of the coronavirus. The problem is that people aren’t going to the movies even where they can go to the movies.

The horror film Freaky, in its third week of release, grossed just $1.1 million in 1,735 theaters. Over the course of its run, it’s grossed just $7 million, so social distancing or not, it is playing to very, very empty houses.

Keep in mind that movie theaters are only open in areas where the government is telling people it is safe to go to the movies, where movies theaters are practicing social distancing. Nevertheless, people still aren’t going.

People who can go to the movies are not going to the movies.

No wonder Hollywood is worried.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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