U.S. Box Office At 20-Year Low Because of Coronavirus As Movie Theaters Across Country Set to Close

The U.S. box office saw major declines over the weekend as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the world.

This weekend's box office was the lowest in nearly 20 years, according to Variety, grossing $55.3 million. That is the lowest figure since the weekend of September 15 to September 17, 2000, when the box office stood at $54.5 million, said the Hollywood industry magazine.

The box office was led by Disney-Pixar's latest animated feature, Onward, which grossed an estimated $10.5 million for a second week at No. 1. Faith-based drama I Still Believe debuted at No. 2 with an estimated $9.5 million. Vin Diesel-starring comic book movie Bloodshot bowed at No. 3 with an estimated $9.3 million in sales. In fourth place was holdover The Invisible Man, which grossed an estimated $6 million. Controversial movie The Hunt debuted in fifth place with an estimated $5.3 million in ticket sales.

In comparison, last weekend's box office was a healthy $90.4 million, much of which came from Onward in its first week of release with $39 million.

The previous lowest-grossing weekend in September 2000 featured the movies The Watcher starring Keanu Reeves, Bait with Jamie Foxx and the hit teen cheerleading comedy Bring It On.

The box office is expected to take further hits in the coming weeks and months, but Universal Pictures' president of domestic distribution Jim Orr told Variety: "These are unique circumstances. But without a doubt, we will get to the other side. The domestic box office will be back, just nobody has a real answer as to when."

Hollywood has reacted to the coronavirus pandemic by delaying the release of some of the year's most anticipated movies as we head into what is usually a season of summer blockbusters.

New Bond movie No Time to Die was the first to push its April release back to November. Last week, Fast 9, the ninth Fast & Furious film, was pushed back almost a year to April 2021. A Quiet Place Part II and Disney's live-action adaptation of Mulan will not be released as planned this month, and no new dates have been scheduled.

On Sunday, the mayors of New York City and Los Angeles announced the closures of movie theaters across the cities.

Said New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter: "Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM.

"This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.

"We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers."

Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close. The order will go into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 9:00 AM.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 16, 2020

On Facebook on Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the closure of all entertainment venues, including multiplexes, through March 31 "unless extended." The ban, also affecting nightclubs, bars and restaurants (with the exception of takeout and deliveries), came into effect at midnight on Sunday.

Disney-Pixar's Onward
Disney-Pixar's 'Onward.' Disney-Pixar