Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, moviegoers could have expected to see fare like Marvel’s Black Widow and Fast 9 dominating the box office this summer. But thanks to most American theaters being shuttered and studios holding back big new releases, there’s been a resurgence of both drive-ins and classic films. This past weekend, Jurassic Park took the top spot—27 years after its initial release.
Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur thriller, which spawned LEGO toys, a ride, and numerous Jeff Goldblum memes, earned $517,600 across 230 sites. While that would normally be a pittance for a major blockbuster, it’s nothing but a nice bonus for Universal, which raked in $357 million during the film’s original domestic release, making it at the time the second-highest grossing film in history after Spielberg’s own E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982.
Owing to the lack of new releases—many studios are opting to either wait or distribute films directly to video-on-demand services—theaters have seen a burgeoning business in classics. Taking second place over the weekend with $516,300 was Spielberg’s 1975 hit Jaws, which just celebrated its 45th anniversary.
Prior to the advent of home video, re-releases were a popular way of getting popular films back in circulation and adding to their total grosses. Star Wars had an incredible initial run in 1977, playing all the way through summer 1978, at which point it was “renewed” in theaters through November. It was screened again in the summer of 1979, summer 1981, and summer 1982, with a “special edition” with refined special effects debuting in 1997.
Movie theater chains are slowly reopening as stay-at-home orders are being relaxed across the country. The industry is looking to Tenet, an action-thriller from director Christopher Nolan, as the first major new release of the summer and a test of whether moviegoers will return to indoor screenings when it opens on July 31. If not, there's always 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park.