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Comscore Reports a Zero-Dollar Weekend at the American Box Office

By Anders Bylund - Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 2:12PM

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Expect these reports to come up blank for several weeks, while movie theaters stay dark across the country.

The American box office saw a zero-dollar tally for the weekend ending on March 20. All of the major studios have said that it doesn't make sense to report ticket sales to data-reporting specialist Comscore while most of the theaters are closed, resulting in Comscore withholding its silver screen analysis for the week. This is the first time in 26 years the box office report has come up blank.

The dominoes fall

Walt Disney (DIS 1.02%) was the first major studio to withdraw its ticket-sales data amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Given the current large number of theater shutdowns around the globe, Disney will suspend global weekend reporting for the time being," the company wrote in emails to several media outlets last Thursday. "Wishing you and your families the best during these testing times and please be safe."

Comcast (CMCSA -0.54%) subsidiary Universal Studios followed suit later that day. With that, every major studio folded their weekend-reporting hands, leaving Comscore without any data to report.

It's true that a few hundred screens remain open, managed by local businesses rather than nationwide chains. But it makes sense to ease up on ticket-sale reports when 96% of the industry closes down.

The last zero-dollar ticket sales report came in the winter of 1994, when the magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Northridge, California, brought all of Hollywood to a halt for a single week.

Two youngsters asleep in an otherwise empty movie theater.

You shouldn't even be here, kids. Image source: Getty Images.

What's next?

Comscore will monitor the situation and get back to its normal reporting schedule once the studios and theater chains agree to restart the halted release schedule. That, in turn, will depend on how long the coronavirus pandemic blankets the country in lockdown orders and social distancing policies. You should expect the box-office figures to stay dark for several weeks.

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