Cinema audiences in North America are still not rushing back to theaters and even “Mulan” is faltering in its China release as the global box office slowly returns online in the COVID-19 era.
In the second major weekend for US and Canadian theaters, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” earned just $ 6.7 million from 2,910 locations, the studio estimated on Sunday. The Warner Bros sci-fi thriller was seen as the main litmus test to find out if the public was ready to embrace the theatrical experience again, after nearly six months of closed theaters due to the pandemic.
While it was enough to overcome the scattered national releases, it is also not enough to restart the struggling trade show industry. Warner Bros. has already postponed its next major release, “Wonder Woman 1
The only major addition of the weekend was Sony’s PG-13 romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” which earned about $ 1.1 million from 2,204 locations in North America. The film, by first-time director Natalie Krinsky and produced by Selena Gomez, is about a 20-year-old gallery owner played by Geraldine Viswanathan who creates an art exhibition with memories of her past relationships.
The studio is optimistic about its performance and potential.
“The first numbers are very encouraging,” said Adrian Smith, president of Sony Pictures’ president of home distribution.
Smith noted that the film will have a slow launch as more theaters continue to open in the United States.
About two thirds of the internal market is open and cinemas operate with limited capacity and limited programming hours. Two of the largest markets in the country, New York and Los Angeles, remain closed. Other markets still closed include North Carolina, Michigan, New Mexico, and the cities of Seattle and Portland.
Other notable national weekend numbers include Disney’s “The New Mutants,” which added $ 2.1 million from 2,704 locations in its third weekend, and Russell Crowe’s Solstice film “Unhinged,” which earned more. $ 1.5 million in the fourth week.
“Each week is a bit of a litmus test for how potential viewers feel about going to the theater,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore’s senior media analyst. “I think the audience is slowly turning back.”
But, he noted, “it is not possible to enforce the rules on how we analyze or report the box office”.
Comscore wasn’t even able to report a traditional “Top 10” ranking due to the unusual market Dergarabedian likened to a “relaunch” or “reboot” of cinema.
The panorama is more encouraging internationally, where “Tenet” added over $ 30 million this weekend, pushing its global total to $ 207 million.
But the new films are not enough on their own. In China, The Walt Disney Co.’s “Mulan” had a disappointing debut of just $ 23.2 million. The low launch, however, said the film is # 1 in the country where 91% of theaters are estimated to be open but limited to 50% capacity. The studio noted that its openness is roughly on the same level as “Cinderella” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”.
Globally, “Mulan” has earned $ 37.6 million to date, although that number is not representative of total earnings. The live-action epic, which was also embroiled in filming location controversies, is not played in North American cinemas. Instead, it’s available for a $ 29.99 rental on the company’s Disney + service. Streaming earnings were not made available.
But pre-COVID success and failure metrics are difficult to apply, especially to the first movies out the gates. And, according to Dergarabedian, it could be like that for a while.
“We are not in a traditional market and we are not in a traditional mode of analysis,” Dergarabedian said. “It will take time to properly assess the long-term impact of the pandemic.”