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Disney Wins Over a Historically Awful Weekend at the Box Office

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos - Mar 16, 2020 at 9:28AM

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Sales dove as coronavirus mitigation efforts ramped up.

It was a historically poor weekend at the U.S. box office as Americans practiced social distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The top 10 movies combined for roughly $50 million of revenue, which was the lowest sales haul in more than two decades, according to Box Office Mojo.

Movie fans share popcorn at the theater.

Image source: Getty Images.

The animated film Onward, from Disney's (DIS -0.70%) Pixar studio, stayed in first place during its second weekend at theaters. However, ticket sales dove 73% from the prior period, reflecting drastic changes in consumer tastes for events that draw large groups of people.

Disney has seen many of its revenue streams impacted in recent days, with its ESPN property stung by sports cancellations, its cruise line hurt by canceled voyages, and many of its theme parks closed. The global entertainment giant has become more attractive to investors with the drop in its share price, though, due to the likely temporary nature of the closings. Disney's new direct-to-consumer TV offering should benefit from increased at-home watching, too.

Yet, as the box office leader for several years running, the House of Mouse stands to take a significant financial hit from any prolonged pause in theater traffic.

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