Hollywood Prepares for Global Box Office Decline as Coronavirus Continues to Spread
By Allyson Vannatta, Staff Writer
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Hollywood is wading into uncharted waters as worldwide ticket sales could lose $4 billion by the end of March.
One source told Deadline, “We are decision makers and problem solvers, but unfortunately because the problem is so unknown in terms of its degree, we just don’t know how deep we’re in. No one knows.”
Recently, the virus has spread to the Europe, infiltrating the countries of Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Croatia, Greece, and Switzerland.
Nearly 50% of Italy’s theaters have been closed, which have affected release dates like Disney’s ONWARD and Universal’s INVISIBLE MAN. Paramount has even halted their 3-week Venice shoot of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 7.
A distribution exec said if the virus continues to spread across Europe, it, “would have major repercussions on the business as the year heats up.”
Hollywood Blockbusters that are expected to heat up the box office include Disney’s live-action MULAN, Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW, Universal’s FAST & FURIOUS 9, and Universal Illumination’s MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU.
BLACK WIDOW was tracking well in China ahead of its May 1st American release date, even though it was never a “do-or-die marketplace,” for the movie to do well according to Forbes.
On the other hand, Disney’s MULAN was and still is counting on China to boost its box office numbers as its described as a ballad to the country. Disney took a $200M gamble on the movie and gave it a PG-13 rating, the first live-action animation remake to receive that rating from the MPAA.
China’s still experiencing the worst of the virus and could impact the global box office the most if theaters there continue to keep doors shut beyond the late March or early April timeline.
Keep in mind, though, that China will make their domestic releases priority when theater doors open again before they get back to Hollywood movies.
According to Variety, quarantines have been in place in China since late January. This is not only affecting normal business, but regular human life as well.
The virus is one part of bad box office numbers, but the other part is studios were already prepared for a lower gross year since 2019 broke records at the box office.
The one question that remains is if the Chinese will flood the theaters when they re-open and it’s all clear to get back to normal life?
Hollywood studios aren’t losing sleep quite yet over a slump year, though. A finance expert told Deadline, “Fortunately, 2021 has a robust lineup of pictures from the studios.”
Deadline reports this possible slump in box office numbers hasn’t impacted decision-making by the studios. Most movies don’t depend on China when working up business models.
According to Deadline, the worldwide death count is approaching 3,000 while there have been almost 81,000 people affected by the coronavirus.