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Hollywood Reports Its Lowest Daily Box Office In Decades

On Wednesday, the day all three of the largest U.S. movie exhibitors — AMC, Regal and Cinemark — shut down operations, Hollywood reported the lowest box office figures since the industry began tabulating numbers independently decades ago.

With just 440 of the nation's more than 5,500 theaters (which account for some 40,000 screens) open for business, North American cinemas took in less than $300,000 for all the movies currently in theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That's down 97% from the comparable date (the third Wednesday in March) last year, and is the lowest daily total in modern film history.

If there was a bright spot (and it's not very bright), it was provided by drive-in theaters. Because audiences view movies from their cars, it's still possible to watch a film with a crowd and practice social distancing. A few drive-ins, notably in California and Texas, made as much as $1,000 for the night. That's maybe enough to make payroll.

But there aren't many drive-ins left — about 300 nationally — and ones in northern states are still closed at this time of year.

Moreover, with Hollywood studios delaying nearly all new films, including such potential blockbusters as Mulan, F9, Marvel's Black Widow, A Quiet Place Part II and the 007 thriller No Time To Die, even drive-ins that do manage to stay open won't be getting any new films anytime soon.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.