Box office: COVID spike in VIC delays reopens

Cinemas reopen this week, but did the Victorian COVID-19 spike put a dampener on cinema turnout?

Despite a spate of reopenings, this week the box office maintained an eerie calm. While this ought to have been a banner week for cinemas around the country, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria has made this optimistic schedule of reopenings seem less certain. 

Village Cinema have delayed reopening twelve of their Victorian cinemas, including the cinemas in complexes at the Jam Factory in South Yarra, and Crown Casino in the Melbourne CBD. These twelve locations have had their reopening date pushed back from 2 July to 20 July. 

In the cinemas that are open, the box office is starting to look like an eerie, tiny, reflection of its former self. The Invisible Man still tops the charts on 32 screens, bringing in a slim average of $1,549, for a total taking of $49,569. Sonic the Hedgehog  sticks it out in the number two spot, bringing in an average of $1,079 across 30 screens, adding $32,367 to its total box office taking of $12,297,883. Bad Boys for Life is also back on 15 screens, bringing in a total of $20,713 across 15 screens.

Films buffs across the board are welcoming the addition of older films to current programming, and drive-ins still seem to be the flavour of the hourClueless, for example, is still going strong on the drive-in circuit. Showing just once over the weekend, the classic brought in $19,041, a total taking that rivals Bad Boys for Life or Bloodshot, which brought in just over $1000 more, despite showing on 25 screens. 

Read More: The Future of Cinemagoing in a Post-COVID World

Some are already rejoicing in their ability to return to their beloved local cinema. Melbourne’s iconic Cinema Nova even invited Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp to cut the ribbon on their reopening:

While some cinema operators are putting celebrations on hold, it’s clear that film instils a passion in people that is hard to divert. This weekend, 12 years after the film’s initial release, Twi-hards braved the pandemic to for a Twilight marathon packing out two (socially distanced) cinemas for Twilight, Twilight: New Moon, and Twilight: Eclipse. Despite the marathon only showing a couple of screenings, the films brought $7958 apiece, for a combined taking of almost $24,000.

With Shrek still going strong in the charts, bringing in $17,809 from its single screening, I guess that even in this time of turmoil, some things never change.

Jini Maxwell is a writer and curator who lives in Naarm. They are an assistant curator at ACMI, where they also host the Women & Non-binary gamers club. They write about videogames and the people who make them. You can find them on Twitter @astroblob