Movies

Croods 2 leads sluggish Thanksgiving box office

LOS ANGELES – Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most popular times to go to the movies.

Crowd pleasers like Frozen, Coco and Knives Out have propelled attendance and generated many, many millions in ticket sales over the holiday weekend in years past, cementing various box office records to boot.

This year, studios and movie theatre owners are settling for scraps.

Only one new movie, Universal and DreamWorks’ The Croods: A New Age, was released in theatres. 

The animated sequel to 2013’s unexpected hit The Croods surpassed expectations, generating US$9.71 million (S$13 million) over the weekend and US$14.22 million since opening last Wednesday. 

That’s considered a success in the age of coronavirus, but it’s hardly what Universal was expecting when the studio initially greenlit the follow-up.

“This level of business is a far cry from typical Thanksgiving weekend releases, but success and failure in the middle of a pandemic should be viewed in relative terms,” says Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro.

To Robbins’ point, past holiday hits were able to play in more than 4,000 theatres nationwide. With the majority of multiplexes closed, including those in major markets like New York and Los Angeles, The Croods 2 could only screen in 2,211 venues.

Even with those limitations, the follow-up is eyeing a pandemic-era record. 

Final tallies are usually reported on Monday. If estimates hold, The Croods 2 would eclipse Tenet for the biggest opening weekend since movie theatres reopened. 

Christopher Nolan’s latest grossed US$9.35 million in its first three days of release.

“For this film to outperform expectations in a less-than-half operational market indicates that moviegoers, especially families, miss the big screen experience and are seeking it out where safe and possible to do so,” Robbins says. 

“The industry still has a challenging road ahead through winter. But Croods’ debut is a preliminary sign of the resilience cinemas can show in the long run.” 

Overseas, The Croods 2 amassed US$20.8 million from seven international markets for a global tally of US$35 million. China alone accounted for US$19.2 million of weekend earnings.

Universal, compared to rivals, has been active in releasing movies during the pandemic. 

That’s because the studio forged unprecedented deals with AMC Theatres and Cinemark, two of the country’s biggest movie theatre chains. 

Typically, movies play exclusively in theatres for 75 to 90 days before they move to online rental services. 

But under Universal and AMC’s new agreement, the studio can put new films on premium video-on-demand within weeks of their theatrical debuts. 

In return, the cinema circuits are expected to get a cut of the digital profits. 

The Croods 2 is scheduled to land on home entertainment in time for Christmas. - REUTERS

 

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