November 2020 wrap-up November 2020 wrap-up

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.

Here is a rundown of key events from the month of November:

The Croods sequel beat expectations, which were admittedly low, with its domestic opening. The film grossed an estimated $14.22 million in its first five days in North America, topping the shrunken Thanksgiving box office. Worldwide, it bowed with around $35 million. Meanwhile, the manga spin-off Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train continued to storm the Japanese box office; at the latest count, it is behind only Spirited Away in the country’s all-time rankings.

The vfx industry’s labor practices were scrutinized (again). The suicide of a vfx worker at Montreal’s Mill Film prompted his brother and colleagues to speak out about the harsh climate at the studio. Over in New Zealand, Weta Digital’s head of HR resigned amid an ongoing investigation into claims that the studio’s workplace is “toxic.”

SIGGRAPH cancelled its in-person conference next year, joining a growing list of events. What’s newsworthy is that the conference was scheduled relatively late in the year, on August 1–5. Instead, SIGGRAPH will go virtual for the second year running.

RIP Ken Spears, co-creator of Scooby-Doo, who died months after his longtime creative partner Joe Ruby; and Tony Eastman, a veteran animator and director on the East Coast animation scene.

Looking ahead to 2021: we published our annual preview of major animated features due for release next year — 23 in all, as things stand. Also in November, we got our first look at some 2021 releases, including the hybrid Tom & Jerry reboot and the Boss Baby sequel.

TV series galore: We launched a first-of-its-kind tracker for animated series expected to premiere in 2021, which we’ll be regularly updating. Currently, it appears that well over 100 new animated series will debut on broadcast, cable, and streaming in the United States next year.

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