Weekend box office report - Covid-19 causes lowest box office total in 25 years

It's not just upcoming movie release schedules being hit hard by Covid-19. Not only are more and more people avoiding public places, but AMC and Regal, the two biggest cinemas chains in the US, have cut their ticket availability for shows by 50% to allow cinema goers to book tickets with empty seats next to them. With such shakeups, current US box office earnings fell sharply this weekend past. Pixar's Onward held onto the top spot it had earned on debut last week, but the animated family film saw its earnings plummet a massive 73% as it pulled in just $10.5 million in its sophomore weekend on the US box office. On the international front, things weren't looking much better as it earned just $6.8 million from 47 markets. That gives the film a global total just barely over $100 million after 10 days, which is definitely not normal for a Pixar film.

In second place, we find faith-based drama I Still Believe which was the only newcomer that actually debuted as predicted (if you want to see that as a commentary on the religious demographic turning up for a movie in spite of Covid-19, that's up to you). The biopic film, which tells the story of Christian singer Jeremy Camp, debuted to the tune of $9.5 million, which was just enough to edge out fellow newcomer Bloodshot.


'Spotlight' Producer Launches $250,000 COVID-19 Relief Fund for Doc Freelancers

Field of Vision and Topic Studios will hand out $2,000 emergency grants to laid-off documentary makers needing to pay their rent or buy groceries.

First Look Media's Field of Vision and Topic Studios, producer of the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, have launched a $250,000 relief fund offering emergency grants to freelancers in the documentary field severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recipients, including unemployed documentary directors and producers and even publicists and researchers, will receive $2,000 each to help pay for rent, healthcare, bills and groceries and other immediate needs, with the funds to be handed out in two separate tranches in April and May.

"This is an incredibly hard time for the documentary field and we're hoping the fund is able to offer some relief," Field of Vision co-founder and executive producer Charlotte Cook said Tuesday in a statement.

The funding will come from Field of Vision and Topic Studios' current operating budgets.

"We hope to respond to the needs of our collaborators in the documentary community and look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when our main focus will again be on making great work together," Maria Zuckerman, executive vp of Topic Studios and a former HBO exec, added in her own statement.

First Look Media, which co-financed and produced Spotlight, rebranded the studio as Topic in 2017.


As Coronavirus Hits Hollywood, Movies Find A New Path Forward

As the coronavirus ripples through every sector of public life, Hollywood must determine in real time how to deal with a crisis that seems to worsen by the hour. Movie theaters across the world have shuttered, including hundreds of venues operated by AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the United States' three largest chains. Blockbusters like "A Quiet Place Part II," "Mulan," "No Time to Die," "Furious 9" and "Black Widow" - all of which staged hefty marketing campaigns worth millions - have been delayed. Other projects still in production (the long list includes "The Batman," the "Avatar" sequels and Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic) are suspended indefinitely.

If the COVID-19 pandemic lasts through May, the global box office could face an estimated $20 billion loss. If it's longer, who knows what might result. Regional economies will be affected, too, as film operations pump money into local businesses and employ freelance crew members who are now out of work.

Meanwhile, scores of people stuck at home are relying on digital platforms for entertainment, giving studios an opportunity to recoup some funds by making nimble, unprecedented decisions to use streaming outlets (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) and video-on-demand services (iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and cable systems like Comcast and Cox) to showcase movies that can no longer play in theaters.

Disney, for one, capitalized on the situation by releasing "Frozen II" on Disney+ months ahead of schedule. Paramount Pictures is cutting a deal to give Netflix "The Lovebirds," a murder-mystery comedy starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani that was supposed to open April 3.


'Top Gun' movie sequel moved to December as coronavirus hits home

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The release of the much anticipated movie sequel to "Top Gun" has been moved to December, Paramount Pictures said on Thursday, the latest disruption in the movie industry caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

"Top Gun: Maverick," starring Tom Cruise, was originally scheduled to open in movie theaters worldwide on June 24 more than 30 years after the original movie launched his career as a global action star.

The delay to Dec. 23 was the latest in a series of blockbuster movies that have been delayed, including the new James Bond film "Never Say Die" and Disney's "Mulan," because of the coronavirus that has closed movie theaters in the United States and much of Europe and Asia.

"Top Gun: Maverick," picks up decades after the 1986 box-office hit and features actor Miles Teller as the son of Anthony Edwards' pilot Goose, who is killed during a training exercise in the first movie.

Most of the big movies that make up the lucrative summer season in North America have been postponed. But Hollywood studios are hopeful theaters will reopen and crowds will return in late summer.

Paramount said on Thursday that the animated "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run", previously scheduled for a May release, would now open on July 31.

"Wonder Woman 1984" from Warner Bros has also been rescheduled from June to Aug. 14.


Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Lisa Richwine, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio