While the pandemic is continuing to sap the box office of its strength, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” is showing opening weekend numbers similar to what “Tenet” showed nearly three months ago, earning a three-day opening weekend of $9.7 million and an extended 5-day Thanksgiving opening of $14.2 million from 2,211 screens.
By comparison, industry estimates found that “Tenet” grossed $9.35 million on its first period of Friday through Sunday and went on to earn a $20.2 million extended opening on Labor Day weekend, though that figure included additional days of preview screenings. If the numbers for “Croods 2” hold, the film will have earned the highest FSS weekend total since the $39.1 million opening of “Onward” back in March just before the pandemic forced theaters to close.
Along with the U.S. totals, “Croods 2” earned a $19.2 million opening from approximately 10,000 screens in China. Combined with $1.6 million from other overseas markets, the sequel has a global opening start of $35 million.
While that result is not what a studio would be looking for in normal circumstances — the reported budget for this animated film is $65 million — nothing about the release of “Croods: A New Age” is ordinary. Along with the pandemic, which has forced over 60% of American theaters to close their doors again, Universal is releasing the film under a new theatrical window deal signed by AMC, Cinemark and Cineplex that will allow them to place “Croods” on premium video on-demand (PVOD) after three weekends in theaters. That means that the studio will be able to make the film available in mid-December for families looking for new films to watch at home during the holidays.
Universal found immense success with the PVOD model with “Trolls World Tour” this past spring, earning well over $100 million in rental and digital purchases. “Croods: A New Age” may find it difficult to match such success as it will be released against “Soul” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” which are being released to Disney+ and HBO Max at no additional cost. Still, the window deal will allow Universal to have something to offer families stuck at home this Christmas while continuing to give theaters fighting to stay open something they can put on their screens.
But while theaters were able to get a small boost from having a new major studio release in theaters, “Croods” was practically all they had. The rest of the Top 5 combined for less than $3 million during the extended Thanksgiving weekend, with Universal/Blumhouse’s “Freaky” taking in $1.1 million over the 5-day period to bring its total to $7 million after three weekends. 101 Studios’ “The War With Grandpa” now stands at $17.2 million after adding $930,000 in its eighth weekend, and Focus’ “Let Him Go” and “Come Play” both crossed the $8 million mark with $670,000 and $520,000 crossed respectively.