Between Hurricane Harvey and the Mayweather-McGregor fight this weekend, no one decided to go to the movies.
Whether it’s because of the storm, or the fight, or the fact that there aren’t any must-see movies out right now, the box office this weekend won’t pass $65 million, and the top 12 films will gross less than $50 million. Those figures are the lowest in more than 15 years.
In the grand scheme, it can seem like a small issue when compared with Hurricane Harvey — the deadly natural disaster that tore through the Gulf Coast of Texas on Friday, dumping more than 20 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. But Harvey also had at least some impact on the business, forcing theater closures in South Texas. Still, the degree to which the storm hurt the bottom line of moviegoing is up for debate.
Another factor under inspection is Saturday evening’s UFC match which saw Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor with a 10th-round TKO. The fight was estimated to reap as much as $1 billion in revenues, and among the biggest pay-per-view draws in history. Numbers regarding the amount of viewers will be released later in the week, but some analysts predicted the highly-anticipated brawl could keep those who would ordinarily see a movie, out of theaters.
All that said, no amount of outside factors can excuse the reality that no major releases this weekend managed to connect with audiences in a significant way. The overall box office this weekend is not expected to pass $65 million, and the top 12 films will gross less than $50 million. Those figures are the lowest in more than 15 years.
There have been lulls around this time in recent years. In 2014, the first weekend in September made $66 million overall. Two years before that, the Sept. 7-9 frame made $67 million overall and $51.9 from the top 12. 2008 saw a similar slump in the Sep. 5–7 frame.
But not since late September in 2001 have they dropped quite so low.* The Sept. 21-23 frame in 2001 earned $59 million overall and the top 12 made $43.5 million. The year before, Sept. 15-17 fell to $53.7 million for the weekend and $37.9 for the top 12.
Sorry, Hollywood — America has a few more pressing issues right now besides going to the theater.