The Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” brought in $4 million in North American box-office sales this weekend in the biggest new-movie release since the Covid-19 virus closed theaters in March.
The film, from the independent movie company Solstice Studios, opened in 1,823 locations in the U.S. and Canada, the industry researcher Comscore Inc. said Sunday. Only about one-third of the 5,800 theater locations have reopened, Comscore said.
The debut is an imperfect test of the consumer’s willingness to return to theaters with the coronavirus still raging and most movie houses still closed. Cinema owners likeAMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. andCinemark Holdings Inc. are limiting ticket sales within their auditoriums to maintain social distancing, effectively capping revenue.
Plus, “Unhinged” was never expected to produce the kind of sales that come from big summer movies likeWalt Disney Co.’s “Mulan.” The first big test will be “Tenet,” a major Warner Bros. film that’s set for Sept. 3 release in the U.S.
Revenue per location provides clues to consumer demand, taking into account that so many multiplexes remain closed. “Unhinged” produced an average of $2,227 in ticket sales on that basis. By comparison, the industry leader one year ago was “Angel Has Fallen,” an action film that debuted with sales of $21.4 million and a per-location average of $6,507.
Theater operators have tried to reassure the moviegoing public by adopting new safety protocols that include more-frequent cleaning and mask-wearing.
“Unhinged” features Oscar-winner Crowe in an R-rated story about road rage. The film cost about $33 million to make, according to IMDb.com, plus additional millions to market. It’s recommended by just 50% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
In China, where movie theaters have reopened since July 20 with reduced capacity,Huayi Brothers Media Corp.’s war film “The Eight Hundred” became the first blockbuster in 2020, Comscore said. That contributed to most of IMAX Global Network’s $7.5 million box office this weekend, 2.5 times last weekend’s number.
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