Universal and its indie wing, Focus, are releasing new films thanks to its PVOD deal, but the industry is still struggling
Even with Universal and Focus Features still providing new films through their PVOD deal, the pandemic has made the usually slow post-Thanksgiving weekend particularly dark for the box office as Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” was the only film to gross more than $750,000 with a second weekend total of $4.4 million from 2,205 screens.
There hasn’t been another wave of theater closures this week to affect the animated sequel’s screen count, but the escalating COVID-19 crisis, combined with a range of streaming and PVOD offerings from “Wonder Woman 1984” to “Soul” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is expected to keep the overwhelming majority of moviegoers at home this December.
Worsening matters is the news this week that the day-and-date strategy that Warner Bros. is using on “Wonder Woman 1984” this Christmas will be used for all of the studio’s 2021 titles, hitting HBO Max at the same time as theaters. While Warner Bros. made the move out of concerns of the speed of COVID-19 vaccination efforts — a concern that may be well-founded as reports of vaccine supply chain problems are already surfacing — AMC Theaters has already voiced its objections to the studio’s plans and promised to defend its interests in ongoing talks.
“Croods: A New Age” will soon join the ranks of early streaming releases, as the deal made between Universal and several major theater chains will allow them to release the film on PVOD after next weekend. Overall, “Croods 2” has a domestic total of $20.3 million and a global total of $60.6 million, with China contributing most of the overseas total with $12.2 million this weekend and $36.6 million overall.
Universal and Focus’ early PVOD deal has also led to the two Comcast-owned studios taking four slots in the top 5. But it doesn’t mean much for exhibitors’ woes as the No. 2 film, Focus’ “Half Brothers,” opened to just $720,000 from 1,369 screens. The comedy about a pair of estranged half-brothers born on opposite ends of the U.S.-Mexico border has a 30% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B on CinemaScore.
The Universal romance film “All My Life” also opened this weekend to just $350,000 from 970 screens and fourth on the charts. Based on the true story of an engaged couple that races to create their dream wedding under the shadow of terminal liver cancer, the film has a 57% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B+ on CinemaScore.
In between the new films is Universal/Blumhouse’s “Freaky,” which sits in third after taking the top spot on the charts for the last two weekends. With $460,000 earned this weekend, the film has a $7.7 million total after three weekends. The one non-Universal/Focus film in the top 5 was 101 Studios’ “The War With Grandpa,” which sits in fifth with $335,000 and a $17.6 million total after nine weekends.
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