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Amid Coronavirus Lockdown, ‘ Phoenix, Oregon’ Tops Box Office Charts With Take of… Four Thousand Dollars!?

Phoenix, Oregon

This weekend was the worst weekend for movie theaters since they were first built. The Hollywood Reporter has reported that for the first time in over 100 years the total weekend box office return was… zero dollars.

Erik Lomis, a don of the distribution business who presently works at United Artists Releasing, is famous for waking up at 4 a.m., seven days a week. By 5:30 a.m., he sends out projected grosses for the previous day. That’s in addition to a detailed analysis on the weekends of how new movies and recently released titles have performed. Last Thursday night, he realized he had to let go. “I sat at my computer at 11 p.m.,” he recalls, “and saw that a rerelease of The Big Lebowski was the top-grossing movie from nine theaters.”

Okay, so, the industry didn’t exactly take in $0, but that’s what was reported as the totals from all the studios. Nothing. It makes sense because all the movie theaters are closed.

Box Office Mojo did have a few reports, though, namely that Phoenix, Oregon played in 17 theaters and brought in a total of $3,842. Which raises questions. Like who wanted to see Phoenix, Oregon so badly that they risked contracting a horrible, deadly disease for it?

I mean, sure, it doesn’t look terrible, but does it look pandemic good? All those Lisa Edelstein fans just couldn’t stay away?

They are now officially the lowest-grossing #1 film in history. Without even having to adjust that for inflation. It’s cute.

The most recent estimate I can find for average ticket price is about $9.40, which means roughly 400 people saw this film. Or one guy saw it 400 times.

Deadline reported, however, that some films did better than this, mostly because a lot of drive-in theaters were still open. I mean, the ones that didn’t close 20 years ago. It makes sense, you go and stay in your car and still get to see a movie. According to their numbers, Onward made about $71,000, down from over $10 million last weekend. That’s around $7,500 tickets using our earlier estimate, provided that still holds up for drive-in movies, so who the hell knows.

A lot of businesses that close will never reopen, because people are going to realize that entire industries are completely unnecessary to their lives. Movie theaters probably won’t be among those businesses yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a decline in ticket sales when the projectors started rolling again.

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