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‘Onward’ Sees Sharp Box Office Drop as Coronavirus Begins to Drain U.S. Cinemas

Pixar film set to drop 67% from its opening weekend

After Hollywood studios pulled virtually all their upcoming spring releases from release in response to the coronavirus, the impact on the ongoing pandemic is beginning to hit the box office hard. While Pixar’s “Onward” is still expected to repeat at No. 1 this weekend, it is taking a steep 68% drop, a sign that audiences are starting to stay away from theaters as officials urge social distancing to prevent the virus’ spread.

“Onward” is currently projected to earn $12.5 million in its second weekend, down significantly from its $40 million opening. While a previous Pixar film, “The Good Dinosaur,” fell to $15.3 million in its second weekend in 2015 after a similar $39.1 million 3-day opening, “Onward” opened to far better word of mouth and critics review with that film.

Between its strong reception and its release in March as schools head out for spring break on a staggered basis, an animated film like “Onward” would typically keep its hold to 50% or even better. With an estimated 10-day total of $62 million and the virus expected to get worse in the U.S. before it gets better, it will be a tall order for “Onward” to just pass $100 million in domestic grosses.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s three new releases are reaching the modest figures set by independent trackers, though only one of them is showing healthier ticket sales. Lionsgate/Kingdom’s “I Still Believe” is projected for an $11.6 million opening from 3,250 screens. That’s good news for the Kingdom Story Company, the new faith-based studio launched by directors Jon and Andrew Erwin following the success of “I Can Only Imagine” in 2018.

While coronavirus erased any chance of the mild crossover success that pushed “I Can Only Imagine” to a $17.1 million opening, “I Still Believe” still appears to be bringing out core audiences that tend to be located in more rural areas of the U.S. where reported cases of the virus so far remain low. Critics were mixed with a 42% Rotten Tomatoes score, but as typical with faith-based films, “I Still Believe” earned an A from mostly evangelical audiences in CinemaScore polls.

The outlook for the other new films is not so strong. In third is Sony’s Valiant Comics adaptation “Bloodshot” with an estimated $9.3 million opening from 2,861 screens, meeting pre-weekend projections of a $8-10 million start. With a $45 million budget, the Vin Diesel vehicle is likely to flop between a lack of widespread interest domestically and coronavirus shutting down key theatrical markets overseas. Audiences gave the film a B on CinemaScore to go with its 31% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Completing the top 5 are two Universal/Blumhouse films: “The Invisible Man” and newcomer “The Hunt,” both of which are currently estimated to earn $6.3 million this weekend. “The Invisible Man,” which cross $100 million in global grosses this weekend against a $7 million budget, is expected to push its domestic total to $64.7 million after three weekends.

“The Hunt,” which was pushed to this release date after school shootings and public backlash led Universal to take it off its initial September 2019 opening, received mixed reviews from critics with a 54% Rotten Tomatoes score. Audiences were also split, giving the film a C+ on CinemaScore. The gory political satire has a reported budget of $14 million.