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Tis the season! Traveling up the East Coast is an intensifying hurricane that threatens the possibility of severe rain, harsh winds, and leaving the the house, nearly impossible. And though movie theaters are the perfect place to spend a rainy day afternoon, Hurricane Joaquin may bring more than a few light showers, making it particularly difficult to get out in your car and drive to the theater. That being said, if the hurricane hits hard, opening weekend for The Martian may not go as planned.
As of yesterday, Hurricane Joaquin had reached Category 4 levels, and was on its way to hit New York City and other major cities which is bound to significantly impact the weekend’s box office. According to Variety, estimates coming in from experts and studio executives have the stormy weekend costing millions of dollars in lost receipts. New York represents as much as 7% of the weekend box office, and is one of the biggest markets for film. So if the city is hit hard, and subways shut down, theaters will subsequently close, and audiences will be staying indoors.
The Martian is this weekend’s main attraction, and is expected to bring more than $35 million. The strength of Hurricane Joaquin could dramatically alter that number. And with the amount of pre-sales outpacing Gravity, as well as strong reviews, analysts have no doubt that the film is bound to attract many moviegoers, but their trips to the theater may be delayed with the storm.
This certainly isn’t the first time Mother Nature had a serious impact on moviegoing. When Hurricane Irene hit, which was a less intense storm, it resulted in theater closures all along the East Coast and an estimate loss of $25 million in ticket sales. Back in December of 2009, when Avatar was released, there were snowstorms across the Northeast, and many analysts believe that it prevented the huge hit from breaking December release records.
Avatar is a terrific example of success after a slow opening weekend though. The film grew to be the biggest blockbuster in history despite any setbacks opening weekend. If The Martian’s opening does take a hit from Hurricane Joaquin, it has the opportunity to quickly bounce back, especially with the steadily strong reviews streaming out about the Ridley Scott space adventure.
For those of you unaffected by the storm, be sure to check out the Matt Damon-led The Martian in theaters this weekend. And for those of you on the East Coast, safety first! The Martian will still be in theaters after the hurricane passes.