Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Will Coronavirus Hurt Disney and ViacomCBS at the Box Office?

By Daniel B. Kline - Mar 6, 2020 at 11:35AM

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

Both companies have major releases planned for March, and they're sticking to their original schedules.

The spreading coronavirus outbreak is leading many people to avoid  activities that require them to gather together in large groups. That's not great news for movie theaters, and it puts two major March releases -- Disney's (DIS 0.13%) "Mulan" and ViacomCBS's (NASDAQ: VIAC) "A Quiet Place Part II" at risk to seriously underperform at the box office.

The studios have stuck to their original U.S. release dates for the films despite concerns about how COVID-19 precautions might impact ticket sales. That's somewhat surprising given that one major movie that had had a planned release date in April-- the James Bond film "No Time to Die" -- has already been postponed to Thanksgiving.

Two women in a crowded movie theater.

Coronavirus fears may have some people skipping going to the movies. Image source: Getty Images.

Movie theater sources told Deadline.com that they expect lower turnout for movies in the short term. That could have a major impact on both of these movies, although Disney's film may take less of a hit because it's aimed at least somewhat at children, and movies for kids tend to have longer theatrical runs.

Disney has, however, indefinitely postponed the release of "Mulan" in China specifically -- out of necessity, as nearly all of that country's 70,000 or so theaters have been closed in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
While theaters in the U.S. and Canada remain open, Disney and ViacomCBS are taking a financial risk in releasing their movies at a time when their target audiences may prefer to remain hunkered down at home. Both media giants may be willing to gamble because they calculate that, with the marketing money they've already spent to promote the films, it's now too late to delay them. The box office numbers may soon reveal whether their decisions were the right ones.

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
DIS
$96.20 (0.13%) $0.12

*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
322%
 
S&P 500 Returns
113%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/07/2022.

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.