Despite strong reviews and a No. 1 opening at the box office, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” has failed to join “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Tom & Jerry” among the films to earn a $10 million-plus opening weekend during the pandemic, instead earning an estimated $8.6 million opening from 2,045 locations.
The lower-than-hoped opening for “Raya” comes after Cinemark refused to screen the animated film without renegotiated terms, as it was released in both theaters and as a premium video on-demand release for $30 on Disney+. “Tom & Jerry,” along with the rest of Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate, is being released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, but Warner Bros. has agreed to give theaters a larger cut of admissions for those films because of the day-and-date release strategy.
The lack of availability for “Raya” at some major theater chains also slightly diminishes how much studios can learn from this weekend’s box office data about audience interest in returning to theaters as they begin to reopen in major cities. The good news is that four films in this week’s Top 5 grossed over $1 million, causing this weekend’s overall grosses to reach $25.2 million according to industry estimates. That’s a 14% increase from the $22 million seen last weekend.
While “Raya and the Last Dragon” hasn’t performed as well theatrically compared to other pandemic-era family releases, it is enjoying very strong critical and audience reception with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score and an A on CinemaScore. Overseas, the film grossed $17.6 million — including $8.4 million in China — for a global total of $26.2 million. Disney, like other studios, has not made data on PVOD sales available.
“Tom & Jerry” takes the No. 2 spot this weekend, earning a 10-day total of just under $23 million. Behind “Raya” and “Tom & Jerry” was Lionsgate’s “Chaos Walking,” which opened at 1,980 locations for a $3.8 million opening. Starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, the sci-fi thriller has a 24% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B on CinemaScore. Focus Features’ “Boogie” takes the No. 4 spot with a $1.2 million opening from 1,252 locations, earning a tepid reception with a C+ on CinemaScore and a 46% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Finally, Universal’s “The Croods: A New Age” hangs on for another Top 5 weekend with $780,000, giving the DreamWorks film a domestic total of $53.6 million after 15 weekends in theaters.
This weekend’s totals reflect the slow-going of getting moviegoers back in seats at the theaters. Approximately 60 theaters in New York City reopened for the first time in nearly a year, including 13 locations owned by AMC Theaters. Other theaters in NYC will open later this month, as they need more time to find staffing and update theaters and concession stands to meet COVID-19 protocols. Those that have opened are required to adhere to a 25% auditorium capacity limit, though industry lobbyists are currently trying to raise that limit for theaters with recliner seats, which already have a very low capacity.
Movie theaters in San Francisco have also been given the green light to open with 25% audience capacity, and industry insiders tell TheWrap that there is optimism that Los Angeles theaters will be able to reopen later this month as well. The best-case scenario for theaters is that the COVID-19 vaccination process, combined with continued social distancing, prevents another infection surge from delaying the reopening process, allowing theaters to take advantage of a full summer blockbuster release calendar to rebuild the box office starting with “Black Widow,” which is set to release only in theaters on May 7.