Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: Hocus Pocus and Tenet can't save the theater industry alone

Tenet
Tenet
Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon

It’s Monday, and things are as dire as they have been for the past… 30 or so Mondays, so let’s just steer into the skid and talk about how bad everything was this weekend. (To be clear, we’re specifically talking about the state of the American box office here, though any confusion would be totally understandable since everything sucks everywhere.) First off, just this morning, British theater company Cineworld announced that it would be closing 536 Regal Cinemas locations in the U.S. after previously reopening them ahead of Tenet’s ill-advised theatrical run, but after that movie’s wholly predictable struggles at the box office (more on that later, or you could just read the last few weeks of reports) and the recent delay of No Time To Die, Cineworld decided it’s simply unfeasible to try and keep theaters open in the middle of a pandemic that is not only not getting better here in the U.S. but may be getting worse.

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Also, in less-depressing news: Disney’s beloved Halloween movie Hocus Pocus returned to theaters and quickly made so much money that it started to look like it would actually dethrone Tenet, which is kind of fun in comparison to how awful everything else is. Unfortunately for Hocus Pocus, though, it did not beat Tenet, coming in at only $1.9 million for the weekend. That’s enough for second place, but not enough to match Tenet’s weekend-winning $2.7 million, which brought it to a total of $45 million after five weeks. That’s still less than what Dunkirk made in one weekend, and with Tenet playing at 128 fewer theaters than it did last week, it seems like it’s time to declare that Warner Bros.’ supposed long-term Tenet plan—which was to keep it in theaters for as long as possible and gradually make good money as the conditions in the country began to improve—is a failure. (And, to be clear, this is mostly Donald Trump’s fault, since he’s the guy who saw a pandemic coming and decided to downplay the threat of it even after he contracted the goddamn virus.)

Hocus Pocus aside, the rest of the list is the same stuff it’s been for a while: The New Mutants made a flat $1 million, Unhinged made $870,000, and the Dinesh D’Souza-produced Infidel made $455,000. All of that is down from the week before and all on fewer theaters than the week before, so it’s clear that nobody’s really winning here. With Regal theaters closing and more big movies being delayed, there’s also no reason to think this will get any better any time soon. Oh sure, theaters could keep making nostalgia swings like Hocus Pocus and The Empire Strikes Back (which has made just over $2 million in the last two weeks), but not everyone’s going to risk getting or spreading COVID just so they can see movies that are already on Disney+. Hopefully Congress is receptive to the calls to provide some kind of financial protection for the theater industry, or else this will all continue to be grim.

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For a more detailed account of this weekend’s box office numbers, head over to Box Office Mojo.

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