Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Global Box Office Faces Pressure as Coronavirus Spreads

By Keith Noonan - Mar 2, 2020 at 3:07PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

COVID-19 is going to have a big impact on the entertainment industry this year.

Variety reports that combined movie ticket sales in China across January and February came in at just $238 million this year, down from roughly $2.15 billion in 2019 as a result of the country closing theaters to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The entertainment-industry trade journal also reports that the Italian box office receipts were down roughly 75% year over year across the Feb. 28 to March 1 timeframe, and roughly half of the country's movie theaters have now closed. 

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is also having an impact on release timing and production. Walt Disney (DIS -1.07%) recently delayed the Chinese release of its live-action Mulan remake, ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC)(PARA.A -1.29%) announced that it's looking for new locations to film the next Mission: Impossible movie after canceling shoots in Italy, and more production and release shifts will likely follow. 

Empty seats in a theater.

Image source: Getty Images.

This year's box office will be down big

Theaters will have to receive permission from the Chinese government in order to reopen, and widespread closures could become the norm in other affected countries. The World Health Organization has advised people to avoid unnecessary large-scale public gatherings, and coronavirus-related concerns will likely make people less eager to head to the movies even if governments don't force or encourage theaters to close. 

With the spread of the coronavirus apparently accelerating in Europe and the U.S., signs that it's still having a big impact in China, and a weaker overall movie release slate compared to 2019, it's reasonable to expect the global box office will see a steep drop off this year. Companies that depend on theme parks for a significant portion of their revenues, including Disney and Comcast (CMCSA 0.25%), will be feeling the squeeze on multiple fronts.  

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$94.63 (-1.07%) $-1.02
Comcast Corporation Stock Quote
Comcast Corporation
$39.43 (0.25%) $0.10
Paramount Global Stock Quote
Paramount Global
$27.54 (-1.29%) $0.36

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.