Back in December, exhibitors lamented the news that Warner Bros.’s entire 2021 slate would get simultaneous theatrical and streaming releases. In one of those bizarre twists in which Covid specializes, one of those films is now being held up as a harbinger of theaters’ recovery.
Tom & Jerry launched this weekend to $13.7 million from 2,475 theaters domestically, notching up the second-biggest opening in the pandemic (behind Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984). And this despite the fact that only 42% of North American cinemas are open (according to Comscore), and that the film is currently available to watch — at no extra charge — on HBO Max. Viewership figures for the streamer have not been released.
Warner Bros. trumpeted the news as a sign of theaters’ resilience. “This is evidence that people are willing to go back to the movies when there is something they want to see,” the studio’s domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein told Deadline. Another way to read the film’s relative success is that the day-and-date model works for studios, and could become more prevalent.