Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most popular times to go to the movies. Crowd pleasers like “Frozen,” “Coco” and “Knives Out” have propelled attendance and generated many, many millions in ticket sales over the holiday weekend in years past, cementing various box office records to boot.
Only one new movie, Universal and DreamWorks’ “The Croods: A New Age,” was released in theaters. The animated sequel to 2013’s unexpected hit “The Croods” surpassed expectations, generating $9.71 million over the weekend and $14.22 million since opening on Wednesday. While that’s considered a success in the age of coronavirus, it’s the lowest Thanksgiving haul in modern history.
“This level of business is a far cry from typical Thanksgiving weekend releases, but success and failure in the middle of a pandemic should be viewed in relative terms,” says Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro.
To Robbins’ point, past holiday hits were able to play in more than 4,000 theaters nationwide. With the majority of multiplexes closed, including those in major markets like New York and Los Angeles, “The Croods 2” could only screen in 2,211 venues. Theaters have continued to shut en masse as COVID-19 cases surge across the country, leaving only 38% of North American cinemas still open for business, according to Comscore.
Even with significant limitations, “The Croods 2” is eyeing a pandemic-era record. Final tallies are usually reported on Monday. If estimates hold, “The Croods: A New Age” would eclipse “Tenet” for the biggest opening weekend since movie theaters reopened. Christopher Nolan’s latest grossed $9.35 million in its first three days of release.
“The Croods 2,” which received positive reviews, benefitted as one of the few new releases targeting family crowds. Audiences awarded the film with an “A” CinemaScore. Joel Crawford directed the sequel, featuring a voice cast of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds.