‘Croods: A New Age’ Opens Better Than Expected, but Theaters Are at Best Break Even

Tom Brueggemann
·5 min read

Croods: A New Age” grossed about $9.7 million for the three-day weekend, $14.2 million for the five days. That puts it at about the same level as the first weekend of “Tenet” even as COVID-19, Regal Cinemas, and seasonal drive-in closings meant it played in 21 percent fewer theaters.

It’s tough to make precise comparisons, but the effort is worthwhile. Studios will look at this data point and apply it to their platform strategies for future releases.

The total box office for the three-day weekend will come in at around $15 million. Last year, led by the second weekend of “Frozen II,” it grossed $181 million.

Of course, this comes with fewer than half of domestic theaters open, and without its two largest markets. So, a rough calculation: If all theaters were open and operating with the same market resistance, the total might have been somewhere in the $35 million-$40 million range. (That number would also reflect greatly reduced product availability.)

“Croods” had a per-theater average of $4,392 (not per screen; most theaters played multiple auditoriums) for the three days. It opened November 26, with a PTA of $6,481 for five days. in March 2013, the initial franchise entry opened to about $49 million. Of course, this time it had the advantage of a Thanksgiving release with almost no competition.

As comparisons go it’s unattractive, even if some analysts say the $14 million five-day start is above expectations. Under normal circumstances, Universal might expect its DreamWorks Animation sequel to open 10-20 percent better than the franchise starter. That would make $60 million the baseline comparison, for a domestic total of $220 million-$240 million.

As an animated title with a Thanksgiving date, it might have made even more. “Frozen II,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (both opened the prior Friday), “Coco,” and “Moana” (just open) grossed between $73 million and $125 million over the five days.

Our guess was, with 100 percent of theaters open, “Croods” would gross at best $35 million-$40 million — and this is where perhaps there is a glimmer of positive news.

It’s a stretch, and goes with the notion that this sequel isn’t quite at the level of those Disney animated films, but “Croods” suggests that despite COVID-19 and significant resistance, it still performed at about half of its potential. That glass-half-full perspective is consistent with its PTA comparison: The Croods” for its three days in March 2013 (adjusted) was around $12,000; that’s compared to the $7,693 for the holiday-elevated five days for the sequel.

Is that enough to encourage other studios? It feels borderline, although it’s a tad better than what “Tenet” conveyed (which, when carefully considered, disappointed — especially since COVID was not surging at that point and health concerns were not as great).

Consistent with other Universal and Focus titles, this has a preset early PVOD date (December 23). Is that a factor in potential ticket buyers’ minds? (It will cost $19.99, with multiple viewings possible for as many people who can view it in one place.) Universal isn’t advertising that yet.

Bottom line: Anyone wanting to make the case to delay openings has strong evidence to buttress it. As to whether theaters will return to normal, and whether PVOD options hurt, the jury is still out.

COVID limited foreign openings for “Croods.” China provided most of it ($19.2 million), with Europe and Latin America delayed. That’s a significant improvement above the first “Croods” and an easy #1 in the country, though far below local openings. It’s a promising start.

Everything else that played this weekend grossed around $5 million total. The sad reality is the best PTA for any other film in the top 10 was under $700. That’s fewer than 100 people attending per theater; most films did only half that level.

If the “Croods” performance halts the flight of more top titles to alternative platforms, that’s positive. Still, theaters operate at an apparent loss with the money accrued enough to keep the lights on.

The Top 10

1. Croods: A New Age (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 55; Est. budget: $65 million

$9,710,000 in 2,211 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,392; Cumulative: $14,220,000

2. Freaky (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$770,000 (-40%) in 1,735 theaters (-322); PTA: $513; Cumulative: $7,020,000

3. The War With Grandpa (101) Week 8; Last weekend #2

$643,936 (-14%) in 1,500 theaters (-188); PTA: $429; Cumulative: $17,257,000

4. Let Him Go (Focus) Week 4; Last weekend #3; also available on PVOD

$453,000 (-37%) in 1,447 theaters (-560); PTA: $313; Cumulative: $8,742,000

5. Come Play (Focus) Week 5; Last weekend #4; also available on PVOD

$387,000 (-31%) in 1,029 theaters (-335); PTA: $376; Cumulative: $8.703,000

6. Honest Thief (Open Road) Week 8; Last weekend #6

$350,000 (-23%) in 975 theaters (-279); PTA: $359; Cumulative: $13,545,000

7. Elf (Warner Bros.) REISSUE; Last weekend #11

$(est.) 325,000 (+51%) in 683 theaters (+355); PTA: $476; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 266,000,000

8. Tenet (Warner Bros.) Week 14; Last weekend #8

$300,000 (-16%) in 656 theaters (-208); PTA: $457; Cumulative: $57,400,000

9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner Bros.) REISSUE

$(est.) 180,000 in 308 theaters; PTA: $584; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 167,400,000

10. Santa Clause (Disney) REISSUE; Last weekend #5

$170,000 (-63%) in 1,090 theaters (-491); PTA: $156; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 324,100,000

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