In the narrow race between Sony/Screen Gems’ “Monster Hunter” and Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s “Croods: A New Age” this weekend, “Monster Hunter” pulled ahead with it currently estimated to become the first non-Universal release to reach No. 1 in eight weeks with a $2.2 million opening from 1,736 screens.
The latest video game adaptation from married actor/director team Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson has a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 47% and an audience score of 74%. It’s Anderson’s first No. 1 release since “Resident Evil: Retribution” in September 2012.
The film — about an elite military force (led by Jovovich) that falls through a portal and into a world populated by giant monsters — was set to release in China but has been delayed over public backlash for a scene in the film that used a racist playground rhyme. The scene will be edited out for a future release, though it is unclear how much the negative publicity will affect turnout among Chinese audiences that have usually enjoyed Anderson’s films if a new release date is set.
“The Croods: A New Age” arrived on premium video on-demand this weekend thanks to Universal’s theatrical window-shortening deal with AMC and Cinemark. The lack of competition at the pandemic box office allowed it to stay close to No. 1 with $2 million grossed in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of $27 million and a global total of $84.5 million. The theatrical window deal has led Universal to provide a steady supply of films to screens in theaters, though the pandemic has greatly curtailed the revenue theaters have seen from those titles. Regardless, that has led to films from Universal and Focus Features to hold the No. 1 spot for the last seven consecutive weeks, with the studio holding eight of the top 20 grossing films this weekend.
Taking third is Lionsgate’s “Fatale” with $925,000 from 1,534 screens. The thriller starring Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy earned a B+ on CinemaScore and 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. A re-release of New Line Cinema’s “Elf” is in fourth with $365,000, while Focus’ “Half Brothers” completes the top 5 with $260,000 and a $1.8 million total after three weekends.
Next weekend will see the release of Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” in both theaters and on HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers. For the theatrical release, it is looking unlikely that the DC sequel will even be able to open in 2,000 theaters as major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Boston are closed. Combined with the threat of COVID-19 amid exploding infection and death rates in the U.S., it is expected that most interested fans will be watching the blockbuster on streaming come Christmas weekend, while opening weekend grosses will be well below the $20.2 million earned by “Tenet” back in September. In China, the film is falling well below expectations with an $18.8 million opening, roughly half of the $38 million that the first “Wonder Woman” earned in the country in 2017.