Last week, we wrote that Dreamworks Animation and Universal’s The Croods: A New Age, a sequel to a hit from 2013 that many will have forgotten, would make an interesting test case for a North American box office threatened by rising infections and renewed theater closures. Well, early signs are good for Universal, in the circumstances.
The film opened domestically to an estimated $14.22 million (Wed–Sun), with a three-day (Fri–Sun) total of $9.71 million. If confirmed, these numbers will represent the biggest three-day domestic opening at the Covid-era box office. Warner Bros.’s Tenet launched with $9.4 million (Fri–Sun) in August; we have to go back to Pixar’s Onward, which took $38 million in early March, for a bigger number.
(A note on Tenet’s opening: $9.4 million is what the film took in its first three-day weekend, September 4–6. Warner Bros. initially reported an opening of $20.2 million, but later clarified that this number included previews dating back to August 31.)
Of course, $14.22 million is a tiny number when compared to past Thanksgiving debuts: this time last year, Frozen 2 opened to $130 million domestically over five days. But A New Age is fighting in a different battlefield: it only opened in 2,211 venues, at a time when the coronavirus cases is spreading like wildfire nationwide.
In these conditions, the film has performed well, beating expectations. Considering its budget of $65 million (before P&A) — less than half what the first Croods cost — Universal can be pleased. The studio backed A New Age pretty strongly, spending $26.5 million on tv and digital marketing, according to Deadline. Under deals it has struck with leading cinema chains, Universal can put the film on home release before Christmas.
A New Age also opened strongly in China, topping the (mostly reopened) box office with $19.2 million. That’s three times more than the first film’s debut in the country, where it went on to gross a strong $63.3 million (before its run was cut short due to “contract reasons”). Overall, A New Age pulled in $20.8 million from seven overseas markets, coming top in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Vietnam.
In our review of the film, we praised parts of its writing, but concluded, “A New Age strays close to the lunatic comedy of Dreamworks’ Trolls franchise … But whereas those films embrace their own oddness, pushing into surrealism, A New Age feels compromised: it never knows how seriously it wants to speak about its characters.”
In other news: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train continues its rampage in Japan. The film has now sold 20,532,177 tickets for a cume of 27.51 billion yen (USD$264.63 million) in the country, according to its official Twitter account. This places it ahead of Titanic (26.2 billion yen) in Japan’s all-time box office, and behind only Spirited Away (30.8 billion yen).
Meanwhile, Dreamworks and Universal have another reason to be cheerful this week: Trolls World Tour looks set to top the Spanish box office for the sixth weekend running, according to provisional data from Comscore.
[Disclaimer: Common sense dictates that people should not be going to movie theaters during the middle of a pandemic, and Cartoon Brew strongly discourages anyone in North America from seeing movies in a group cinema setting at this time.]