Domestic box office loss is approximately $1.16 billion year-on-year through April 23, a 38.9% drop. Within that the US has shed $1.04 billion and Canada $103.6 million. But knowing what is happening at a market, or even country-wide, level will not necessarily be the priority for localized exhibitors and understanding what is happening on a state level could inform the wider picture moving forward.
Gower Street’s interactive choropleth map of US state theatrical box office (above) looks at the losses by state compared to an average of the past three years. The darker the coloring the bigger the current impact. Simply looking at total monetary loss would, of course, show the biggest losses in California, Texas, Florida and New York due to the size of their respective box office in normal years. California alone has lost over $250 million compared to an average of the past three years – more than the entire mid-West region ($210 million).
However, by comparing each state’s current 2020 grosses against their own average box office results from 2017-2019 we see a different picture. You can explore each state’s figures on the interactive map. As you hover over each state you will see the percentage loss for 2020 compared to 3-year average, alongside the monetary loss in the state, and what the past 3-year average would have been.
State losses range from between just shy of 50% at the high and just over 38% at the low. But the high is not California and the low is not Vermont. Instead Rhode Island is revealed to have seen the greatest loss by percentage of business so far. While its $3.24 million loss (compared to the three-year average) appears to pale in comparison to California (it is only 1.3% of California’s monetary loss) Rhode Island’s own percentage of business loss is 49.5% compared to California’s 48.4% (sixth among the US states). Illinois, Hawaii and Louisiana all stand at more than 49%.
On the other end of the scale is New Hampshire. While its monetary loss is marginally higher than Rhode Island’s ($3.48 million) this is only 38.1% down in terms of percentage of business. It is the only state currently showing a business loss of under 40%, with Maine and Wyoming next with just under 42%. Among the big four US box office drivers Texas is holding up best with business down 42.4% despite a $125.9 million monetary deficit.
Of course, Texas is one of the few states that has seen no complete days of closure since most theaters across the country shutdown in mid-March. At least eight of its drive-in theaters are currently operating, more than in any other state, with more set to open in early May. In comparison New York and Pennsylvania, currently suffering business losses of 47.4% and 46.7% respectively, have none of their drive-ins operating despite boasting them in greater numbers than Texas or any other state. In total 22 states have at least one drive-in theater currently playing movies; New Hampshire is not one of them.
The number of drive-in theaters in operation will continue to grow throughout May. Those already playing are offering a mix of current releases, such as TROLLS WORLD TOUR and ONWARD; recent releases, such as BAD BOYS FOR LIFE and THE CALL OF THE WILD; and popular catalog titles, such as JURASSIC PARK and JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.
Meanwhile, traditional theaters that are closed will return to business at different times in different states. The planned duration of stay-at-home orders vary significantly from state-to-state. Several states have not issued such a measure at all; many are currently due to expire this week unless extended; some run into mid- or late-May; Virginia’s is currently set to run into June; while those in four states, including California, have indefinite ends.
Georgia’s governor has announced theaters could re-open this week, although how many will do so remains to be seen. The country’s biggest circuit, AMC, has already announced it will not be re-opening any locations until there is new Hollywood product to fill its screens – currently scheduled for July with Universal’s THE FOREVER PURGE, Warner Bros’ TENET and Disney’s MULAN; though that too could yet change. As we pointed out two weeks ago, with all AMC sites closed it would be impossible for the domestic market as a whole to achieve the Stage 1 marker of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery – the minimum number of theaters re-open that are capable in normal circumstances of achieving an 80% market share. Cinemark had already said it was aiming for a July re-opening.
This week Gower Street launched its domestic-focused Road To Recovery report, which looks in-depth at data across each US state and Canadian province as well as the market as a whole. This report offers a state-by-state view of what is happening daily to help the industry track the situation and identify early signs of recovery that will provide guidance for other states and provinces, while also giving more localized operators insight into what is happening in their, and neighboring, states. As well as graphs and data on year-to-date box office; number of theaters open; and the growth of the virus; each state-view features localized comment and the key markers of our 5-stage Blueprint To Recovery identified for every state and province. The report is available here.
This article was originally published in Screendollars’ newsletter #114 (April 27, 2020).