2020 has been one hell of a year, and we’re only halfway through it. One of the smallest but strangest shifts this year has been watching the box office react to the COVID-19 crisis. With theaters shuttered for months, major releases heading to streaming, and drive-ins sustaining the theatrical experience, the very way we think about the box office has changed dramatically. In turn, we’ve had an unprecedented selection of box office number ones this year, which we’re highlighting here!
Box office intake: $33,419
No. 1 on: April 10
In the first hint that something strange would be happening in the wake of COVID-19 shuttering cinemas, Swallow became the number one movie in the country thanks to one drive-in theater in Florida. The atmospheric chiller centers on Haley Bennett’s lonely housewife who comes to find solace in swallowing household objects. A film that barely would have registered on the box office scales in any other year took the number one spot in a weirdly wonderful turn of events.
Box office intake: $1,551,047
No. 1 from: May 1 – June 9, June 11
IFC Midnight has long been providing viewers with interesting and twisted little horror movies. But during the pandemic they’ve also been taking advantage of the unexpected situation. IFC’s second #1 movie this year was The Wretched, which stayed in the top spot for over a month thanks to its wide expansion in drive-ins. The film follows a young boy who moves into a new house only to discover that a shape-shifting witch lives next door. It proved the perfect popcorn movie for viewers desperate to hit the drive-in this past May.
Christian Nilsson and Eric Tabach
Box office intake: $68,183
No. 1 on: June 10
This entry comes with a very big asterisk but we have to mention this top tier scam. Taking advantage of the current climate, filmmakers Christian Nilsson and Eric Tabach decided to make a 29-minute haunted horror movie filmed exclusively on Zoom and then shoot it to the top of the charts simply by buying out an empty theatre. Sure, it was only the two of them who actually watched it, but it did get them to that coveted number one spot.
Box office intake: $657,320
No. 1 from: June 12 – 14
Lulu Wilson took on Kevin James’ neo-Nazi in this gruesome little home invasion horror which took the top spot for new releases when it hit drive-ins in June. Scary, violent, and entertaining in equal measure, Wilson is brilliant as the young girl who has to take down the white supremacists who invade her weekend away with her dad. It’s rare to see a solid B-movie like this deliver at a box office usually saturated with superheroes, but in 2020 it happened!
The Invisible Man
Box office intake: $64,914,050
No. 1 on: June 15
You might be reading this and saying, “What are you talking about?” given that The Invisible Man was one of the box office’s last truly big smashes before the global pandemic. But we’re not talking about The Invisible Man being number one in February or even March. Thanks to the cursed year of 2020, the awesome horror flick took the top spot once again in June.
Box office intake: $1.032 billion… total ($517,000 to get to number one in 2020)
No. 1 from: June 19 – 21
The latest movie to return to screens while hitting the top spot is Jurassic Park. Thanks to Universal releasing a series of their classic movies in drive-ins and newly opened theaters to hopefully restart the box office boom, Steven Spielberg’s stunning dinosaur disaster movie is back where it belongs: number one! In an incredible twist of fate, Jurassic Park barely beat out Jaws for the number one spot.
While it’s unclear how long this trend will last with many theaters reopening and new movies like Mulan and Tenet set to hit screens soon, we’re big fans of the unexpected box office shift!
Featured Image: IFC