There has been very little box office to speak of for the past two and a half months as most movie theaters in the U.S. have been closed since mid-March. However, it was recently reported that IFC’s The Wretched became the little horror movie that could, topping the box office, or what remains of it, for the past five weeks. However, a new report states that it is actually Universal’s Trolls World Tour in the top spot, and it has been for nearly two months.
According to a new report, Trolls World Tour brought in $337,800 last weekend. The weekend before, it earned $604 thousand. Meanwhile, The Wretched pulled in $175,600 and $216,000 on those weekends, respectively. It wasn’t even close. What’s more, The Wretched was also topped by Jumanji: The Next Level ($186,800), The Hunt ($217,500) and The Invisible Man ($320,800). So how is that the box office totals were so widely reported, seemingly incorrectly?
When things are operating normally, studios report on ticket sales and services like Comscore track them as well. But since the shutdown took place, most studios and services haven’t been tracking or reporting ticket sales. IFC Films is one of few notable distributors in the business that has been keeping track, which is why box office numbers for The Wretched, as well as some of their other releases such as Swallow and How to Build a Girl, have been available and reported on. This is not to take anything away from the relatively impressive run that The Wretched has had in these unprecedented times, but it has not held the box office crown for five weeks. It only seemed so due to a lack of available data.
This is a window into just how abnormal things are for the movie business right now. There were only about 600 theaters open across the U.S. last weekend, many of which were drive-ins. Considering there are around 5,000 across the country in total, that is but a small fraction of the exhibition business operating. As states begin to reopen in the coming weeks, that number will continue to grow. Though we may never again see a number as large as 5,000.
AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the country, recently cast doubt on its ability to remain open in the long run. Other theaters, such as the Alamo Drafthouse locations in Arizona, have declared bankruptcy. It seems even with chains like Cinemark starting to reopen this month that many theaters simply won’t be able to weather the storm. Theatrical distribution will undoubtedly be a part of the future for the movie business but the screen count seems poised to decrease. At the very least, we may see more reliable box office reporting make a return in July, assuming movies like Tenet and Mulan can hit their target release dates.