Week-in-review: Weekend Box Office, The Witcher Halting Production And The Growing Crisis In The Entertainment Industry

    Box Office Results Plumet

    Disney and Pixar’s latest CGI-animated film Onward remained on top last weekend with $10.6 million. However, Pixar’s magic and Disney’s shrewdness were no match for the mounting concerns about the global pandemic of COVID-19. Looking at the combined gross of the highest-earning movies of the weekend, we can see a considerable drop in cinema attendance. During the weekend between March 6 and March 8, combined earning of the top ten films at the domestic box office was around $90.4 million. Just a weekend later, this same gross slipped down to $53.6 million – almost 50 percent! With cinemas now closing all around the US, the numbers will certainly be even more abysmal this weekend.

    In second place at the weekend box office is the newcomer Bloodshot – an action SF movie featuring Vin Diesel portraying a slain soldier brought back to life with superpowers. Bloodshot grossed almost $9.2 million in its opening weekend. In third place with $9.1 million is yet another newcomer – Christian drama I Still Believe starring KJ Apa (Riverdale), Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) and singer and songwriter Shania Twain. In the fourth place with $5.9 million is Leigh Whannell’s horror film The Invisible Man. And finally, in fifth place at the last weekend’s box office is The Hunt starring Betty Gilpin (GLOW) and Hilary Swank (Logan Lucky). This action thriller earned $5.3 million in its inaugural weekend. All of this data comes courtesy of the Box Office Mojo.

    The Witcher Halts Productions as Kristofer Hivju Tests Positive for COVID-19

    Less than a month ago we reported how Kristofer Hivju — best known for playing Tormund Giantsbane on HBO’s Game of Thrones — joined the Netflix fantasy series The Witcher. Well, Hivju now unfortunately also joins the growing list of actors diagnosed positive on COVID-19. AVClub says Hivju is currently at home in Norway, self-isolating with his family to prevent further spread of disease. This happened several hours after Netflix decided to halt the show’s production for two weeks due to the pandemic. Now the entire set will undergo a “deep clean” while the cast and crew have been advised to quarantine themselves. As for the show’s production, it has been halted until further notice.

    Simultaneously, Amazon halted the long-gestating production of its fantasy series The Lord of the Rings as well as its adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction classic The Foundation. Similarly, Hulu suspended the shooting of The Handmaid’s Tale, apparently concluding we’re already on our way into a grim dystopia where only entertainments are endless sitcom reruns and televised puppet shows. All joking aside, both Hivju and people behind all these shows are setting a great example with their responsibility and level-headedness at the time we need it the most.

    Grim Times Ahead for Entertainment Industry

    We’re only in the second week of the pandemic and things are already looking grim for the entertainment industry. Over the last week or so we wrote about postponed releases, halted productions and closed cinemas. Folks at The Hollywood Reporter did some number-crunching and according to their estimates by 13 March movie industry already took a hit of at least $7 billion. If we account for the rest of March as well as April and May, the industry could lose another $10 billion. And if the crisis continues beyond that point, anything goes.

    Cinema chains have also been hit. Alamo Drafthouse, AMC, Landmark Theatres and Regal Cinemas all closed due to fears of spreading the pandemic. As studios like NBC Universal decided to release some of their most recent titles digitally On Demand, there was concern within the ranks of the National Association of Theatre Owners. As SlashFilm reports, NATO issued a statement that acknowledged the effects of the coronavirus on the industry but also cautioned against releasing every film straight to streaming. Furthermore, NATO pledged $1 million to movie theater workers during hiatus while also petitioning Congress for further help for its 150,000 employees.

    As the industry grinds to a halt, thousands of people working for studios and cinemas might – and very likely will – lose their jobs. Variety says Hollywood production companies are discussing the future of their employees during this unwelcome hiatus. Disney’s TV group committed to three weeks of pay as a starting point. Sources believe Warner Bros. committed to two weeks of full pay for full-time employees. Netflix has allegedly committed to a minimum of two weeks of pay for crews working on its shows in the U.S. and Canada. But what happens beyond those two or three weeks? The crisis has only just begun.

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