Although concerns remain over U.S. theatrical moviegoing due to coronavirus, box office revenues are slightly higher than a year ago through the first weekend in March -- with national TV marketing spend stable for now.
IMDB’s Box Office Mojo shows 210 film releases are at $1.58 billion through the first two months of the year -- up less than 1% from $1.57 billion. The top U.S. theatrical movie so far is Sony Pictures’ “Bad Boys for Life” with $198.6 million in U.S. box office business.
A year ago, Warner Bros.' “Aquaman” posted the highest results season-to-date -- $134.7 million. There were slightly more releases in theaters in 2019 for the first two months of the year -- 234.
Some studios are shifting major releases to the back end of the year: MGM/Universal Pictures moved its big James Bond movie “No Time to Die” to November from its April start.
Near-term, many studios are continuing to push ahead with big releases such as Walt Disney’s “Mulan” (March 27) and Universal Pictures' “Trolls World Tour” (April 10) and its “Fast & Furious 9” (May 22).
“If there is any box office weakness related to the coronavirus, Disney’s studio stands to be one of the most impacted with six major films set to be released before July,” says Robert Fishman, theatrical movie analyst for MoffettNathanson Research.
More troubling for U.S.-based movie studios is the decline in international business from its movies, amidst theater closures in China and lower attendance in theaters in South Korea and Japan in recent weeks.
In a rough estimate, this could mean a $5 billion hit in worldwide box office revenues. In 2019, global theatrical revenues were $42.5 billion, according to ComScore.
U.S. theatrical movie spending is slightly down: Through the most recent two-week period (February 21 through March 5), marketing spent is at estimated $66.4 million in national TV marketing (14,001 airings of commercials). This compares with the previous two week period, $76.7 million (16,429 airings), according to iSpot.tv.
To date in 2020 -- over the first two months of the year -- national TV spend for film marketers was at $402.1 million (71,046 airings). A year ago over the same time period it was $464.6 million (84,497 airings).