The decision by most American theater chains to shut down amid the novel coronavirus pandemic had a pronounced impact on the box office, as might be expected. Onward, which made $49 million at the domestic box office over the weekend and another $3 million and change on Monday, dropped to $1.2 million on Tuesday, a daily drop of 59%. That's a big swing compared with last week, when the film actually earned significantly more money on Tuesday than it did on Monday before settling back to its Monday baseline for Wednesday and Thursday screenings before the weekend changed the math again.
Naturally, in its third week of release, Onward is going to slump compared to where it was two weeks or even a week ago, but the top movie in the country slumping to less than $2 million in a day is pretty uncommon these days. Of course, we are in uncharted territory in a lot of areas of American life. It seems likely that tomorrow, the number will plummet even further.
It is possible (maybe likely) that the bigger numbers last Tuesday versus Monday were a result of deals that Marcus Theatres and Regal Cinemas run on Tuesday to drive audiences in. This week, both of those chains closed their doors indefinitely.
In spite of a pretty respectable opening, it seems likely Onward will be one of the lowest-grossing offerings in Pixar's history. The studio, a reliable hit-maker for Disney, has rarely had a criticaly or box office misfire, and the films are complex and expensive to make, meaning that it's possible Onward will be a big write-down for Disney. So far, Disney has resisted turning to streaming video on demand to mitigate losses they are taking on from theater closures, although Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures Entertainment have both made announcements that will bring recent and upcomign theatrical releases to home video in the days and weeks to come.
In Onward, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on a journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.
Onward is the last film from Pixar Animation Studios. The film is directed by Dan Scanlon from a screenplay written by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin, and features the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer.