11:58 GMT09 April 2020
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    Movie ticket sales in North America fell to a historic low this past weekend amid the global COVID-19 outbreak.

    Between Friday and Sunday, there were only $55.3 million in ticket sales, which is the lowest US ticket revenue since the weekend of September 15 and 17 in 2000, when ticket sales totaled only $54.5 million. The low ticket sales over the weekend represent a 44% drop from last weekend, even though three new films, “Bloodshot,” “The Hunt” and “I Still Believe,” have recently been released.

    “This weekend’s three new wide releases were not expected to do big business,” David A. Gross, head of movie consultancy firm Franchise Entertainment Research, told the New York Times Sunday. “Still, these openings are down 30% or more from where they would be under normal circumstances.”

    The low ticket sales come after two major theater chains, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas, announced last week that they would be cutting their seating capacity by 50% in theater auditoriums in an effort to practice “social distancing” amid the pandemic.

    "AMC is also actively complying with all local authorities’ directives on social gathering and is further reducing the availability of tickets to comply with any current or future federal, state or local governmental order," the company said in a statement, USA Today reported. Heather Peters, spokesperson for Regal Cinemas, has stated that the company is “complying, where applicable, with state mandates on social gathering limits.”

    According to Variety, “Onward,” a work of Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, performed best over the weekend, making more than $10 million in ticket sales. However, that figure still represents a 73% decline in ticket sales from its opening weekend, which began March 8.

    “These are unique circumstances,” Jim Orr, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic distribution, told Variety. “But without a doubt, we will get to the other side. The domestic box office will be back, just nobody has a real answer as to when.”

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