Pointing to a hunger for new theatrical content among family audiences that have had few options aside from The Croods: A New Age and The War With Grandpa over the last several months, Warner Bros.’ Tom & Jerry debuted with an impressive $13.71 million this weekend, blowing way past expectations to become the second-highest opening weekend of the pandemic after Wonder Woman 1984, which grossed a $16.7 million in its debut frame back in December.
Tom & Jerry’s better-than-anticipated debut is even more remarkable given that just 45% of domestic theaters are currently open at limited capacity and that the film debuted simultaneously on HBO Max, giving viewers the option of staying home to watch the film as opposed to paying a premium to see it in theaters. Its strong debut serves as a shot in the arm for the exhibition industry, suggesting that families with children, at least, are raring to return to the multiplex as vaccinations continue to ramp up and the pandemic enters its waning stages (with the caveat that case counts, despite significant declines in recent weeks, remain dangerously high in the U.S.)
Promisingly, audiences who turned out for Tom & Jerry this weekend largely enjoyed it; the film’s CinemaScore is an A- overall and an A+ for audiences under 18, while its PostTrak score is an 81 Index and 4 stars with a 79% Total Positive rating for general audiences and an 85 Index, 4 ½ stars and a 90% Total Positive rating among children. The studio reports that the top 10 DMA markets are, in order, Dallas, Greater New York Metro, Chicago, Houston Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver and Boston. (Notably, theaters in New York City are slated to reopen with limited capacity next Friday, March 5.)
In some ways, Tom & Jerry’s successful debut this weekend shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Over Thanksgiving weekend, with COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. beginning to reach critical levels, The Croods: A New Age opened to a robust (for the pandemic) $9.71 million and, aside from a substantial drop in its sophomore frame, the animated sequel continued to post strong holds over subsequent weeks. The War With Grandpa — the family comedy starring Robert De Niro that opened to $3.62 million in mid-October — has had a similarly leggy run, having remained in the top 10 for 20 straight weeks. In short: Parents in many parts of the country have shown a willingness to brave potential COVID-19 risks at the multiplex to provide a two-hour window of entertainment for their children.
That said, more risk-averse parents also appear to have helped lift the film this weekend, as Warner Bros. notes that private “Pod” bookings helped boost the film’s weekend gross considerably, with 10,000 total bookings so far and about half of those for opening weekend.
What’s interesting to consider is that, in non-COVID times with normal studio release schedules in place, Tom & Jerry may have come off as something of an afterthought in the theatrical landscape; unlike The Croods: A New Age, the 80-year-old brand isn’t an instantly recognizable title to the kids of today. What’s also notable is the film’s dismal 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which may have served to dampen turnout had more theatrical options been available. In the current climate, though, Tom & Jerry has become an unlikely highlight in a catastrophic year for the exhibition industry as a whole – and, with vaccines being administered to more than a million Americans per day, a harbinger of brighter days to come.
Tom & Jerry‘s success couldn’t help but put a damper on The Croods: A New Age, which suffered a steeper decline than usual after facing its first real competition since its November release. Bringing in an estimated $1.21 million — a 30% dip from last weekend’s gross — the total for the Universal/Dreamworks Animation title now stands at $52.39 million through the end of its 14th weekend.
Finishing in third place was Warner Bros.’ The Little Things, which dipped 20% to an estimated $925k in its fifth weekend. The Denzel Washington thriller has $12.91 million to date.
Warner Bros.’ third film in the top 5, Wonder Woman 1984, finished in fourth with an estimated $710k, easing just 11% from last weekend’s gross and giving the superhero sequel $43.62 million so far.
Open Road’s The Marksman rounded out the top five with an estimated $700k in its seventh weekend, down just 10% from last weekend’s total. The Liam Neeson thriller has $12.35 million to date.
Building on its sturdy debut in North America, Tom & Jerry posted an estimated $19.4 million overseas from 35 markets this weekend, including a strong $12.3 million opening in China and a $3.3 million debut in Russia. The film’s international total now stands at $25.1 million and the global cume is $38.8 million.
Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates (Domestic)
FRI, FEB. 26 – SUN, FEB. 28
|1||Tom & Jerry||$13,700,000||—||2,475||—||$5,535||$13,700,000||1||Warner Bros.|
|2||The Croods: A New Age||$1,210,000||-30%||1,912||-1||$633||$52,385,385||14||Universal Pictures|
|3||The Little Things||$925,000||-20%||1,853||-208||$499||$12,905,077||5||Warner Bros. / New Line|
|4||Wonder Woman 1984||$710,000||-11%||1,534||-110||$463||$43,623,770||10||Warner Bros.|
|5||The Marksman||$700,000||-10%||1,414||-229||$495||$12,345,425||7||Open Road / Briarcliff Entertainment|
|6||Judas and the Black Messiah||$500,000||-42%||1,350||-556||$370||$4,060,574||3||Warner Bros.|
|7||Monster Hunter||$460,000||-12%||1,238||-73||$372||$14,004,118||11||Sony Pictures|
|1||News of The World||$200,000||-17%||992||-169||$202||$11,964,590||10||Universal Pictures|
|2||The War With Grandpa||$138,997||-40%||621||-32||$224||$20,514,495||21||101 Studios|
|3||Wrong Turn||$119,575||44187%||142||141||$842||$327,643||5||Saban Films|
|4||The Mauritanian||$118,000||-14%||287||0||$411||$522,810||3||STX Entertainment|
|5||Promising Young Woman||$105,000||0%||575||-104||$183||$5,250,960||10||Focus Features|
|6||Blithe Spirit||$70,000||-21%||238||-1||$294||$190,453||2||IFC Films|
|7||Willy’s Wonderland||$65,766||-21%||164||-7||$401||$305,338||3||Screen Media|
|8||Come Play||$65,000||-7%||123||-20||$528||$10,454,440||18||Focus Features|
|10||My Zoe||$32,506||—||237||—||$137||$32,506||1||Blue Fox Entertainment|
|1||The Vigil||$20,000||—||55||—||$364||$20,000||1||IFC Films|
|2||Dara Of Jasenovac||$4,826||2%||19||-4||$254||$49,047||4||101 Studios|
|3||The Violent Heart||$4,000||-71%||28||-65||$143||$23,614||2||Gravitas Ventures|
|4||Our Friend||$1,800||-83%||1||-130||$1,800||$657,351||6||Gravitas Ventures|