Historically, the Thanksgiving debut for The Croods: A New Age was an unmitigated box office disaster. You’d have to go back multiple generations to find a figure so small for the #1 movie of this holiday weekend.
In the age of COVID, however, it’s the biggest blockbuster yet.
Eking past Tenet‘s $9.35 million three-day open in September, DreamWorks Animations’ Croods 2 sequel took in $9.71 million Friday-to-Sunday and $14.22 million overall since hitting theaters on Wednesday, November 25.
More notably, Croods 2 shatters what had become the norm for new releases during October and November.
Mid-range, non-franchise fare has dominated multiplexes this fall, whether they be family comedies (The War With Grandpa), Horror/Thrillers (Freaky and Come Play), or adult genre (Liam Neeson‘s Honest Thief and Kevin Costner neo-Western Let Him Go). Nothing has resembled a potential four-quadrant hit or a franchise entry with a built-in audience.
Nevertheless, for an industry looking for consistency, these movies provided it (if strictly on the low end), averaging around $3.5 million per debut. Let Him Go tapped the high end of that range with a $4.1 million haul.
Now, for the first time, a movie has more than doubled that three-day average while adding an additional $5 million to it in its first two days.
So what does that mean, if anything?
Well, when you more-than-double a two-month average, that certainly has to count for something — especially when it comes as a second major COVID-19 wave begins to spike nationwide.
Also notable: Croods 2 reached its pandemic-record numbers with far less screen space. On the November 20 weekend just prior to Thanksgiving, over 800 theaters nationwide closed suddenly and unexpectedly. The mass shutdown was due to new community restrictions implemented by mayors and governors across North America.
So even with those obstacles, what proved the difference for The Croods: A New Age? Two things: it was a franchise sequel, and it opened on a holiday weekend.
Even with its simultaneous same-day debut on HBO Max and the head-to-head competition with Pixar’s Soul (which streams exclusively on Disney Plus beginning December 25), the numbers for Croods 2 suggest that audiences are hungry for the theater experience once again (especially with the family) if it’s for a new entry from popular IP — so hungry, in fact, that they’re willing to brave the COVID second wave to have it.
If Wonder Woman 1984 can more-than-double Croods 2 and boast a debut of $20-plus million over the three-day Christmas weekend, look for studios to take that as a sign that movie theaters are once again a field of dreams: if they screen it, you will come…so long as the “it” is a big budget franchise flagship.