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Hollywood sees lowest ticket sales in more than 20 years

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North American movie ticket sales fell to a two-decade low last weekend as much of the public self-isolated amid the coronavirus outbreak and numerous jurisdictions imposed restrictions on how many people can gather in one place.

Only $55.3 million in ticket sales was reported between Friday and Sunday, the lowest since the weekend of Sept. 15-17, 2000, when the total was $54.5 million, Variety reported.

The decline came on the first weekend after two of the nation’s biggest chains, AMC and Regal, cut capacity to 50 percent.

“The impact of this unprecedented situation was apparent across many industries,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, told Variety. “Of course, movie theaters, amidst reduced capacity and an ever-evolving set of circumstances, had a very challenging weekend.”

Disney-Pixar’s “Onward,” which retained the No. 1 slot at the box office, was the only movie to make more than $10 million over the weekend, according to the entertainment news outlet, and still suffered a 73-percent drop in ticket sales from its initial opening weekend. The faith-based musical drama “I Still Believe” was the most successful new release, with $9.5 million in sales.

“These are unique circumstances,” Jim Orr, Universal’s 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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