Weekend Box Office Forecast: The Croods: A New Age Arrives for Thanksgiving as the First Major Studio Animation Movie Since March

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age")

Following an expected dip at the domestic box office last weekend, largely driven by renewed curfews, lockdowns, and theater closures amid surging virus cases, cinema operators still up and running will receive a much needed reprieve this frame as Universal launches The Croods: A New Age in an estimated 2,211 locations.

The sequel to 2013’s original film is one of the few titles this year to actually stick to its 2020 release plans. In fact, it was moved up ahead of schedule after the litany of other delays and evolving market conditions gave it a greater purpose to serve exhibitors starved for content. The film was originally slated to open during Christmas.

As the only major studio consistently releasing films at the moment, Universal is poised to enjoy its fourth #1 title in a month as Croods aims to draw families willing to venture out over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The studio is fresh off the release of Freaky, as well as Let Him Go and Come Play (both from Focus Features).

The marketing campaign has been among the strongest of any film during the pandemic with television spots and targeted ads comparable to the footprints of Freaky and Tenet.

Naturally, expectations are quite modest for the Croods sequel and well below what they would have been under normal circumstances. That said, this film is effectively the first high-profile film to target a family audience in the theatrical market since Disney and Pixar opened Onward shortly before the pandemic forced theater closures in March.

During the fall, 101 Studios’ live-action comedy The War with Grandpa found some modest success appealing to families and older adults.

It’s widely expected that Universal will take advantage of their recently struck deals with certain exhibition chains that allows them to move the Croods sequel to a PVOD release in mid-December, something that shouldn’t be surprising given the current surge of virus cases in the United States and the fact that cinemas are bracing for a tough winter. Without those agreements, it’s unlikely this film would be hitting big screens at all right now.

An estimated 40 percent of the market is open heading into Thanksgiving, which is typically one of the anchors of any given year with strong holiday business. That won’t be the case this year, unfortunately.

The animated sequel itself boasts an estimated 29 percent of all booked showtimes, per our parent company’s Showtimes Dashboard. Notably, 6 percent of showings belong to “private watch parties”, suggesting that the holiday week has provided an opportune time for families and quarantine pods to hit theaters and take advantage of the heavily discounted rental availabilities. It’s unknown how those grosses will be reported, but they could help pad performances for certain films.

Meanwhile, Disney continues its recent tradition of re-issues — this week with a return of the original Frozen in an estimated 1,357 theaters.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, November 29 % Change from Last Wknd
The Croods: A New Age Universal Pictures $5,500,000 $8,300,000 NEW
Freaky Universal Pictures $830,000 $7,100,000 -35%
The War with Grandpa 101 Studios $600,000 $17,200,000 -20%
Let Him Go Focus Features $440,000 $8,700,000 -39%
Frozen (2020 Re-Issue) Walt Disney Pictures $400,000 $600,000 NEW
Come Play Focus Features $390,000 $8,700,000 -31%
Honest Thief Open Road Films $320,000 $13,500,000 -28%
The Santa Clause (2020 Re-Issue) Walt Disney Pictures $250,000 $910,000 -46%
Tenet Warner Bros. Studios $260,000 $57,400,000 -28%
Vanguard Gravitas Ventures $220,000 $770,000 -42%

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age")
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