What’s considered a hit during the pandemic would be a flop any other time
$4 million: That’s the approximate opening box office revenue for the Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged.
This time last year, the top-grossing film was the R-rated coming-of-age comedy Good Boys, taking in more than $30 million. Fast-forward to our current pandemic entertainment season, and Unhinged’s meager seven figures is now considered “a win for the revival of moviegoing in the U.S.,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. (Unhinged’s haul would have put it in 13th place, had it been released this week in 2019, trailing the Richard Linklater film Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which had a $5.1 million opening.)
It’s all relative: What would have been a humiliating flop for a mass-oriented star vehicle back then is now a success because Unhinged played in 1,823 theaters, per THR, “the first new wide release to hit the big screen since cinemas went dark in March amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.” That’s far from business as usual — Good Boys played on more than 3,200 screens — but it’s seen as a hopeful sign for the movie theater business, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The massive AMC Theatres chain, for instance, reported a second-quarter loss of $2.2 billion. The next big test: Christopher Nolan’s $200 million spy extravaganza Tenet, delayed several times since a planned July release, is rolling out in international markets — including China, where limited-capacity theaters have helped bring back moviegoers — early next month.
Hollywood wants to know: What will it take for you to give us a thumbs-up again?