For once, we can ride this month out on a little swell of optimism. Universal’s The Croods: A New Age is estimated to have netted the biggest domestic opening since the coronavirus began shutting venues down in March. It turns out that families aren’t quite as hard to entice back to theaters as many thought, though there is also a clear risk in going to the movies in the midst of a pandemic.
That news comes with several caveats. The film’s opening is still tiny by pre-pandemic standards. What’s more, its legs at the box office may soon be cut off, as Universal prepares a home release within weeks — the result of a Covid-era renegotiation of the theatrical window.
Across the industry, the weather remains stormy. Hopes for imminent vaccinations notwithstanding, we still see plenty of signs of low confidence in a quick end to the pandemic: events are canceling in-person editions well into next year, while the 2021 release calendar remains provisional, with studios holding back from committing to specific dates for tentpole films.