It was a big weekend in the Domestic market this past week, with box office topping $10 million for the first time since the mid-March shutdown. The US opening of UNHINGED, launched a week earlier in Canada, brought with it a wave of new theater openings – more than 700 in total re-opened across the Domestic market for the August 21-23 weekend. Between them AMC and Regal re-opened approximately 300 sites – the first re-openings for either exhibitor. More than 40 states witnessed week-on-week growth in new theater re-openings, including Arizona which re-opened traditional theaters for the first time since the state’s second closure on June 30.
In total Gower Street estimates that 38% of theaters across the entire Domestic market were operating at the weekend, representing nearly 37% of normal market share. While that number may still sound low it is a vast improvement on the previous weekend when 25% of theaters were open, representing less than 19% of market share.
The combination of mass re-openings and a new-release with a big-name star in Russell Crowe, helped drive 13 US states to hit Stage 2 of their Blueprint To Recovery. Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee all achieved their Stage 2 targets on Friday (Aug. 21). Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas all followed a day later on Saturday (Aug. 22).
Several Canadian provinces had been boosted to achieve their own Stage 2 targets the previous weekend (Aug. 14), when UNHINGED opened alongside THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN and local comedy MON CIRQUE A MOI.
The August 14 play-week also brought with it the first Domestic sub-market (Canadian province or US state) to achieve its Stage 3 target. The small province of Prince Edward Island achieved the goal grossing $37k for the week – ahead of its $33k target (see localized Growth Trackers below for the province). Charlottetown’s Cineplex and City Cinema sites both re-opened in the province for the July 17 weekend. The Cineplex Summerside has since followed, while the province’s Brackley Beach drive-in re-opened back on June 5.
The Stage 3 target requires a box office week equivalent to the lowest box office week of the past two years. China achieved its own Stage 3 target in the same box office week, the 5th international market to do so after Japan (the first to hit the goal), South Korea, Taiwan and the Netherlands.
The Stage 2 target (the first box office goal on our Blueprint To Recovery) requires a daily box office equivalent to the previous lowest day of box office from the previous two years. While this may seem a low target it is one that Gower Street considers a “base day”, demonstrating a core audience ready and willing to return to cinemas. Individual growth trackers for each of the 13 states hitting the mark this week, identifying their target goals, can be seen in our latest Domestic Road To Recovery report. Access your free trial.
The resurgence of traditional theaters was also evident in the market share attributed to drive-ins this week. For weeks the market, especially in the US, has been reliant on the drive-in sector. Looking back at the first weekend in May, when total Domestic box office remained under $1 million, drive-ins accounted for 87% market share, according to our partners at Comscore Movies. That number remained around 80% throughout May, before gradually scaling back to around 65% by late June and holding there into August. The significant re-opening of Canada, timed for the opening of the trio of new openers (mentioned above) on August 14, saw market share attributed to drive-ins fall below 50%. This past weekend drive-ins accounted for only 33% of the total market.