It was a great weekend for subpar family CG films starring animals. Peter Lepeniotis’ The Nut Job, the first animated film released by Open Road Films, the new distribution company launched by AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group, opened in third place with a robust $19.4 million. It’s a four-day holiday in the United States, so the film will have a healthy Monday gross as well. No one had anticipated the film performing so well, especially after its poor reception with both critics and audiences.
The most recent comp—a mid-budget CGI children’s animal comedy—would be Reel FX/Relativity’s Free Birds, which opened last November with $15.8M and went on to gross $55.2M domestically. As it stands, The Nut Job is on track to become the highest-grossing Open Road film yet, and a sure sign that they’ll be releasing more second-rate animated films in the future.