As Hurricane Matthew zeroes in on the southeast coast of the United States, residents are evacuating, windows are being boarded and just about anyone in the massive storm’s path is bracing for the worst.
Yet, the damage Matthew inflicts could go far beyond Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. In fact, Hollywood is pulling for the Category 4 storm to stay away from land in the Atlantic Ocean, because otherwise, the movie box office could take a considerable hit.
Lionsgate, Universal and Fox Searchlight all have wide releases debuting this weekend, including the horror film The Girl on the Train starring Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux and Allison Janney. It already had some tough competition from the highly praised Birth of a Nation from writer and director Nate Parker, but it might also lose some major markets on its opening weekend including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, and really any city that is anywhere near the coast.
While a good portion of the losses would come from people not putting “going to the movies” as one of their top priorities as Matthew heads their way, in many other places – especially in the storm’s direct path – theaters are closing, Deadline reports, and could be closed through the weekend.
Cassidy Arnold, who manages Frank Theaters in Savannah, Georgia, told reporter Anthony D’Alessandro she has to close, mostly to make sure their most expensive equipment is not damaged.
“At this point we plan to be closed tonight and tomorrow. We have to disconnect the projectors so there is no water damage. We plan to be closed for Thursday through Saturday, and some of the islands and the college area have been evacuated. It is going to hit us on Friday.”
Governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have declared states of emergency for practically their entire states. That’s more than 45 million people who could be affected in those states alone.
Overnight, Matthew pounded its way through the Bahamas with its sights set on Florida. The National Hurricane Center said southern Florida could start feeling the effects of the hurricane late Thursday, while Georgia and the eastern part of the Carolinas would suffer through the weekend. Weather officials noted that Matthew is huge, so it doesn’t even need to make landfall to wreak havoc on the coast – although the further out to sea the storm’s eye is, the less impact those states will suffer.
One saving grace, at least for Girl on the Train and Birth of a Nation is that both are lower-budget films, and because of that, could absorb some losses a lot better than, say, a high-budgeted Avengers movie might.
The other major release, Lionsgate’s Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life also has a smaller budget, typical for comedies. So it, too, should be able to absorb some of the hurricane damage to the box office.
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