North American box office suffers $600M deficit year-over-year amid coronavirus pandemic: report

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Movie theaters across the United States and Canada were forced to close their doors last month because of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s left a $600 million deficit in the box office, according to a new report.

The steep deficit equates to a 25 percent decline in 2020’s first quarter when comparing it to 2019’s statistics, The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday.

The drop is likely the result of a decline in sales specifically in March when the coronavirus pandemic shifted dramatically. Comscore stopped reporting theater grosses on March 19, according to the outlet.

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A movie theatre is closed Wednesday, March 18 in Phoenix. The city of Phoenix issued a state of emergency on Tuesday ordering all bars, gyms and other indoor facilities to close immediately and restaurants to offer to-go service only in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

A movie theatre is closed Wednesday, March 18 in Phoenix. The city of Phoenix issued a state of emergency on Tuesday ordering all bars, gyms and other indoor facilities to close immediately and restaurants to offer to-go service only in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  (AP Photo/Matt York)

Domestic ticket sales for 2020 totaled $1.81 billion from Jan. 1 through March 19. In 2019, Comscore reported the first three months’ revenue at $2.41 billion.

Revenue for March clocked in at $255.7 million this year as movie theaters in both countries slowed before ultimately closing entirely. The outlet said this is compared to a $612.8 million total from March 1-19 in 2019 — a total decline of 58 percent.

The Hollywood Reporter said this year’s box office began strong, with both January and February box office numbers clocking in higher than 2019.

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A woman walks through a lightly trafficked Times Square in New York, Monday, March 16.

A woman walks through a lightly trafficked Times Square in New York, Monday, March 16. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

According to the outlet, January saw $912 million in revenue, thanks in part to Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life.” This resulted in a 12 percent increase over January 2019’s revenue.

Similarly, Paramount’s release of “Sonic The Hedgehog” in February resulted in monthly earning’s beating 2019’s numbers.

But it was the week of March 16 that government officials in North America began to lay down the law that would severely affect the film industry.

On March 17, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order closing all movie theaters, nightclubs and small house venues as a result of the novel coronavirus.

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Andrea Wyatt of Inglewood, Calif., wears a mask as she collects her concessions at the Paramount Drive-In Theatres, Thursday, March 19 in Paramount, Calif. The drive-in theater, long a dwindling nostalgia act in a multiplex world, is experiencing a momentary return to prominence. With nearly all of the nation’s movie theaters shuttered due to the pandemic, some drive-in owners think they’re in a unique position to give moviegoers a chance to do something out of the house but stay within prudent distance from one another.

Andrea Wyatt of Inglewood, Calif., wears a mask as she collects her concessions at the Paramount Drive-In Theatres, Thursday, March 19 in Paramount, Calif. The drive-in theater, long a dwindling nostalgia act in a multiplex world, is experiencing a momentary return to prominence. With nearly all of the nation’s movie theaters shuttered due to the pandemic, some drive-in owners think they’re in a unique position to give moviegoers a chance to do something out of the house but stay within prudent distance from one another. (AP)

“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors,” the mayor announced.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” he added. “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.”

Days later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom similarly issued a “statewide order” for its some 40 million residents to “stay at home,” which extended to theaters, bars, salons and local health clubs.

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The Hollywood Reporter said it’s “too early” to tell just how massive of a toll the 2020 worldwide box office will suffer as a result of the pandemic.

Film studios in Hollywood have already seen losses totaling $7 billion, the outlet said, and it’s estimated that bottom line number could grow to as high as $17 billion by June.

Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.