The past two weeks have delivered significant upward motion for the film industry as Warner Bros. released Tom & Jerry to an over-performing debut at the pandemic-stricken box office, followed by Disney’s first domestic theatrical release in a year with Raya and the Last Dragon.
It will again be those titles carrying theatrical attendance as we approach the middle of March and studios sit back to let a market in the early stages of recovery breathe a little bit while consumer confidence steadily grows. While Raya‘s $8.5 million start last weekend didn’t generate the kind of enthusiastic attention Tom & Jerry did with its $14.1 million debut, the Disney pic still represented an important step forward that coincided with the reopening of some theaters in New York City.
Raya faced a confluence of factors that held back theatrical performance relative to the Warner Bros. family pic, not the least of which were its availability (at a premium $30 charge) to Disney+ streaming subscribers (which has a much larger user base than HBO Max) and an absence from three of North America’s top theater chains due to stalled negotiations with Disney over rental fees.
Additionally, according to studio sources, Raya displayed a higher lean on female audiences than the more evenly split demographics driving other pandemic pics like The War with Grandpa (50 percent down the middle), The Croods: A New Age (53 percent female), and Tom & Jerry itself (51 percent male). This was likely another factor in the film bowing slightly below expectations as fathers and sons were demonstrably outside the target audience, while Tom & Jerry was still a force attracting family attendance itself.
Nevertheless, Raya is being met with very warm reception that should spell out strong staying power through the final two weeks of winter and into spring. Critics have awarded it a 95 percent score from over 230 reviews, while Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score stands at a robust 83 percent from more than 1,000 ratings as of March 10.
By comparison, while Tom & Jerry hasn’t won over as many critics (25 percent), its audience score stands at a strong 84 percent from over 500 ratings through the same point in time. On top of the other aforementioned factors, Disney may simply run into a case of bad luck timing by launching Raya immediately after the Warner pic while theaters and audiences are still in the early-ish stages of recovery.
This is typically the time of year when spring break heavily influences daily box office patterns, although those will be slightly more muted this year due to theaters operating at reduced showtimes and capacities throughout weekdays. Still, with no new competition to face, Raya and Tom & Jerry should both enjoy fairly strong holds. The latter will benefit from stabilization arriving now that it won’t be hampered by the loss of premium screens and their price charges, which were yielded to Raya last weekend, playing a role in the Warner pic’s 53 percent sophomore weekend drop.
New Releases & Holdovers
Although not expected to go nationwide in the traditional sense, Sony will unfurl two films in limited release this weekend. Long Weekend, from Sony Pictures, will bow at 812 locations, while Sony Pictures Classics’ The Father is estimated to debut at north of 800 theaters. Modest debuts in line with previous pandemic releases from Sony like The Last Shift and Yellow Rose appear likely at this stage.
Per Showtimes Dashboard, the slight edge in film footprints again (and unsurprisingly) goes to Raya this weekend with 19 percent of total screenings at domestic cinemas going to the Disney release. Tom & Jerry isn’t far behind at 18 percent, while Chaos Walking remains a notable presence at 13 percent as of Thursday morning.
The aforementioned release from Lionsgate, as well as Focus Features’ Boogie, are likely to decline a bit more sharply than Raya — and certainly more than other holdovers — as sophomore entries to the market, but the Doug Liman adaptation otherwise maintains a presence in IMAX and free of new competitors for its audience. Elsewhere, any films not losing a big portion of their theater count should also prove sturdy.
Another element that could soften declines is the increasing confidence of potential moviegoers as word of mouth spreads that cinemas in major markets are beginning to reopen and a steadily growing crop of fresh mainstream movies are available for consumption. Additionally, while not wholly confirmed yet, it is expected that some theaters in Los Angeles could re-open as soon as this Saturday, although it’s possible this will be staggered and part of a lead-up to more openings from individual chains next week.
This Weekend vs. Last Weekend
With no major studio titles opening this frame, Boxoffice projects the top ten will moderately decline 18 to 23 percent from last weekend’s $22.96 million. That sum was driven by Raya‘s $8.5 million debut and Tom & Jerry‘s $6.5 million follow-up performance. Those high-profile titles helped the top ten earn more than $20 million for the first time in 2021.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, March 14||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||Walt Disney Pictures||$6,700,000||$16,900,000||2,163||-21%|
|Tom & Jerry||Warner Bros. Studios||$5,600,000||$29,900,000||~2,500||-14%|
|The Croods: A New Age||Universal Pictures||$725,000||$54,500,000||1,440||-8%|
|The Marksman||Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment||$460,000||$13,600,000||1,105||-8%|
|The Father||Sony Pictures Classics||$400,000||$400,000||~850||NEW|
|The Little Things||Warner Bros. Studios||$360,000||$14,200,000||~1,100||-35%|
|Wonder Woman 1984||Warner Bros. Studios||$350,000||$45,000,000||~850||-30%|
|Long Weekend||Sony Pictures / Stage 6 Films||$225,000||$225,000||814||NEW|
|Monster Hunter||Sony Pictures||$210,000||$14,700,000||1,003||-16%|
All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed.
Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.
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