Box Office Numbers Are Officially Meaningless

What do you think of when you think of October 1918? Probably nothing, right? Well, that happens to have been the deadliest month of the Spanish flu pandemic. People in the year 2120 are going to look back at this time -- possibly literally, through some sort of technological pensieve -- and find all kinds of weirdness that won't be easily explained. Sure, once they realize that June 2020 was right in the middle of a deadly pandemic that closed down movie theaters for months on end, it will make slightly more sense that the number-one movies at the box office included a zero-budget horror film shot entirely with contemporary people's primitive video calling software and a movie that was, in fact, released nearly 30 years earlier. But until they get that context, they're just going to think, "Wasn't Jurassic Park released in 1993?" (People in the year 2120 are going to think a lot about Jurassic Park, as they will probably have a real one.)

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Both of those things might confuse you, too, so allow us to explain. Last week, the number-one movie in all these United States was a horror movie you've never heard of called Unsubscribed. It was shot on Zoom by two randos who had the misfortune of renting a theater before everything shut down and figured they might as well use it, even if it was just to screen a movie to an empty audience.

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Emptiness, however, is a nebulous concept in these times, in more ways than one. Every seat was paid for, and it was the only movie in the whole country to play to a monetarily full house, making it the only movie to top the box office that literally nobody saw.

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Among the few theaters that are open, however, are a lot of drive-ins. As such places are known less as venues for taking in the latest blockbuster than for getting pregnant, they tend to play classic fare that's guaranteed to bring in the condomless and won't be ruined if you miss a few minutes making mistakes. Even real theaters, as they start to reopen across the country, weren't keen on taking a gamble over the Father's Day weekend. And you know what dads love even more than a pristine thermostat? Dinosaurs. Such was the confluence of events that led Jurassic Park to the number-one spot 27 years after it first did so. Number two was Jaws. If anyone is having a good month -- and it's really just the one guy -- it's Steven Spielberg.

Emptiness is a nebulous concept on Manna's Twitter.

Top image: Universal Pictures

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