Marvel Studios’ Eternals is likely to repeat atop the box office in its second frame, but theater owners and Paramount Pictures are hoping Clifford the Big Red Dog can post a respectable debut even as pandemic considerations linger.
Based on the near-sixty-year-old children’s book series, Clifford is the type of family film that had higher box office expectations when it was originally slated to release exclusively in theaters and without health concerns for parents to keep in mind. As has happened to many other films over the past 20 months, that plan was complicated by the state of the world.
Now, Clifford is a hybrid release opening in movie theaters and streaming at home — for free — to Paramount+ subscribers on the same day. The strategy is identical to what Paramount previously executed for PAW Patrol: The Movie in late August, while similar to what Universal employed for The Boss Baby: Family Business in July. MGM and UAR’s The Addams Family 2 also went hybrid in early October, but it was a paid PVOD release rather than a free streaming option.
Where Clifford might be able to differentiate itself a bit is with the good news about COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged between 5 and 12: nearly one million are expected to receive their first dose by the end of Wednesday, the film’s first full opening day.
That may or may not have a significant impact on box office since health officials point out that even children receiving vaccines this week won’t be considered fully vaccinated until December at the earliest. That fact may continue playing into parental decisions about taking their kids and families out to public places for the remainder of this month, but it’s an unknown variable in many regards.
Still, Clifford‘s built-in awareness across multiple generations should at least help it out stand out more than Ron’s Gone Wrong did when it opened to $7.3 million a few weeks ago. Social media footprints are comparable to those of the aforementioned PAW Patrol, Addams, and Boss Baby films this year, which posted $13.2 million, $17.3 million, and $16 million opening weekends, respectively. Notably, PAW did not screen at Regal Cinemas; Clifford is.
Clifford also had an extended opening with Tuesday previews and a Wednesday launch to take advantage of Veterans Day on Thursday, when many kids are off from school. This is the first time since 2010 the holiday has landed on a Thursday, so box office trajectories will again be skewed after just coming down from the post-Halloween corridor.
Reviews for the live action adaptation are at 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, but the early audience score is a far more encouraging 94 percent.
On the holdover front, Eternals will be closely watched in its second frame as the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to be greeted with a “rotten” critics’ score and an 80 percent audience rating already hovering not far above Thor: The Dark World.
Eternals bowed to a solid $71.3 million last weekend and again showed the drawing power of the Marvel brand even with unknown characters and mixed buzz in tow. Barring a major breakout by Clifford or a shocking drop-off for Eternals itself, the MCU flick is still likely to win the box office frame again.
Meanwhile, Focus Features will debut Kenneth Branagh’s early award season favorite Belfast in moderate release, a play that will hopefully extend the recently encouraging trends of arthouse films at the box office during the pandemic recovery era. Spencer‘s $2.1 million debut at 996 locations last week, as well as The French Dispatch‘s expansions and The Card Counter‘s September debut, have renewed hope for that audience’s eventual return to cinemas.
All in all, the market will slow down significantly without a true event film opening this weekend to continue the momentum of Eternals and prior October releases, but that narrative is expected to shift upward again with next week’s anticipated launch of Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife exclusively in theaters. Holdovers for the current frame should largely post modest drops with little competition entering the market.
Wide Release Forecast Ranges
Clifford the Big Red Dog
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $10.5 – 14.5 million
5-Day Opening Weekend Range: $16 – 22 million
Boxoffice projects a 38 to 43 percent decline for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $103.96 million top ten aggregate.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, November 14||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Eternals||Disney / Marvel Studios||$26,200,000||$117,900,000||4,090||-63%|
|Clifford the Big Red Dog||Paramount Pictures||$12,500,000||$20,000,000||3,407 on Wed; 3,700 on Fri||NEW|
|Dune||Warner Bros. Pictures||$5,600,000||$93,400,000||3,282||-28%|
|No Time to Die||MGM / EON / United Artists Releasing||$4,900,000||$150,900,000||2,867||-19%|
|Venom: Let There Be Carnage||Sony Pictures / Columbia||$3,600,000||$202,400,000||2,538||-19%|
|Ron’s Gone Wrong||20th Century Studios||$2,500,000||$21,300,000||2,430||-30%|
|The French Dispatch||Searchlight Pictures||$1,800,000||$11,500,000||1,225||-30%|
|Halloween Kills||Universal Pictures||$1,200,000||$91,700,000||1,994||-49%|
|Spencer||NEON / Topic Studios||$1,100,000||$4,000,000||~1,100||-48%|
All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios. The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.