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How Will Boston Bombings Manhunt Affect Box Office This Weekend?

Tom Cruise's "Oblivion" could lose $1 million, analyst predicts

The domestic box office may take a small hit in the wake of a massive manhunt for one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings this week.

"Oblivion," the Tom Cruise science fiction film opening Friday, could see its weekend gross drop by as much as $1 million, Bruce Nash, founder of the box office stats site The Numbers predicted to TheWrap. Nash attributes most of the dip to Boston, where authorities have asked residents to stay in their homes while they search for a suspect they consider armed and extremely dangerous. 

Unsurprisingly, ticket sales in the city are down, according to an individual with knowledge of pre-sales.

Also read: What It's Like Here in Boston Right Now

One suspect in the bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed by police Thursday, while another, his brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, has so far evaded capture. In addition to their alleged roles in the bombings that left three people dead, the brothers are suspected of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer, robbing a convenience store and hijacking a car.

Movie theaters throughout the city, which constitutes two percent of the national box office, will remain closed. A spokesman for AMC, for instance, said the chain had closed its Boston Common location. Spokespeople for National Amusements and Regal, two other major chains, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

As many as 10 to 15 theaters could be impacted by the closures, according to a second individual with knowledge of the situation.

Universal Pictures, which is producing "Oblivion," declined to comment for this article.

Whether the metropolitan trauma impacts movie-going outside the city will depend on if a night at the movies seems like an appealing escape from the relentless media coverage of the hunt.

Also read: Boston Bombings: NBC Pulls 'Hannibal' Episode

"It depends on what the mood will be like in other parts of the country," Nash said. "Are people going to feel like seeing a film at all? It could be that 'Oblivion' is far enough away from what's happening that people will want to go see it. If it were a gangster movie set it Boston it might be different." 

Unlike after "The Dark Knight Rises" premiered in the wake of a movie theater shooting in Colorado that appeared to be partially inspired by the Batman universe, there is no link between the movies and the tragedy in Boston. That's why some box office sages believe that moviegoers will still want to buy tickets to the weekend's major new release, "Oblivion."

"Science fiction is pretty far away from these events," Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, said. "Outside of the Boston metro and New England area, I doubt there will be any major effect."

Bock predicts that "Oblivion" will open to between $30 million to $35 million.