Weekend Box Office Forecast: Tom & Jerry Continues the Warner Bros. Experiment, Offers 2021’s First Family Movie In Domestic Cinemas

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. ("Tom & Jerry"); Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age"); Warner Bros. / John Schwartzman ("The Little Things")

February’s final frame is in sight, and with it arrives 2021’s first high-profile family movie.

The fourth film under Warner Bros.’ hybrid release experiment, Tom & Jerry will offer fresh content to theaters in need of it, and families with kids who are only increasingly eager to get out of the house. The latter is an audience that has already shown their willingness, where safe and able, to turn out for films like The War with Grandpa and The Croods: A New Age in recent months.

The latter returned to the top of the box office two weeks ago — its 12th of release — and remained there last weekend. The former just finished its 20th weekend of play, having opened in early October, and has charted among the top ten every single weekend since.

Where Tom & Jerry differs is its immediate availability to stream for free on HBO Max with an existing subscription. Even the Croods sequel, which went to PVOD in mid-December, had yet to be available in the home at such a bargain for consumers until its Blu-ray and digital release this past Tuesday.

With those increasingly usual caveats in mind, the pic will debut in north of 2,000 domestic theaters this weekend. It currently boasts a strong 27 percent share of all showtimes across the universe of booked films. That’s just shy of the 31 percent mark reached by both the Croods sequel and Wonder Woman 1984 during their respective openings.

With an estimated 45 percent of domestic theaters open currently, the live-action-animation blend starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña won’t have a typical theatrical run. Still, even Warner’s own day-and-date releases have seen varying results that indicate average-to-above-average legs are possible.

Example: Wonder Woman 1984 bowed to $16.7 million over Christmas weekend and has earned 2.55 times that amount so far — a typical multiplier for any tentpole superhero sequel prior to the pandemic. The Little Things, meanwhile, exceeded pandemic-era expectations with a $4.7 million opening frame in late January — the highest R-rated opening of the pandemic up to this point — and is beginning to display some staying power after an initial Super Bowl-driven decline in its second frame. The thriller has earned $11.8 million as of last Sunday.

Tom & Jerry is far more likely to debut in line with the latter of those comparisons, despite having little else in common with it. While the Croods sequel’s $9.7 million three-day weekend might seem like a fair benchmark, that DreamWorks brand is far more well-known to modern day kiddies compared to the legacy branding of an 80-year-old franchise that hasn’t had a significant mainstream presence in decades.

In short, while Tom & Jerry represents another small step toward expanding the volume of mainstream-friendly content playing in theaters, it will likely still be a modest earner compared to the potential of other films in the coming months. We’re expecting an opening weekend in the range of $4.5 million on the low end, potentially going as high as $7 million.

Aside from the new release’s streaming availability, audiences continue to wait for a higher degree of vaccination implementation, bigger product, and major market re-openings — beginning with New York City on March 5.

Holdover Status

Many films should again post strong retention rates this weekend, although there may be some exceptions. The aforementioned Croods sequel and War with Grandpa could drop a bit more sharply than they typically have as they face direct competition for the first time this year, though impact may still be minimal compared to pre-pandemic patterns.

Warner Bros.’ The Little Things should see a stable hold, although Showtimes Dashboard indicates both Judas and the Black Messiah and Wonder Woman 1984 may see sharp location count declines. The former won’t be playing for the same crowd as Tom & Jerry, but it will lose premium screens and the relevant surcharges previously aiding that film’s performance.

Meanwhile, Apple TV+ will release Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry for a limited engagement run in IMAX starting this weekend, Sony Pictures Classics is opening The Father, and Netflix’s Cherry will bow in select theaters ahead of its Apple TV+ launch on March 12. We are not currently providing forecasts for these titles, and there is no indication yet as to whether box office returns will be reported for the Eilish doc or Cherry.

Weekend vs. Weekend

While it’s still too early to bring back past-year weekend comparisons (the pandemic didn’t take hold until mid-March), the approaching end of winter and New York City’s reopening ahead of a stronger March release slate may yield some justification to monitoring the weekend-to-weekend trends of the domestic box office.

With that mind, we’re projecting the market will increase 47 to 57 percent from last weekend when the top ten generated $7.4 million as The Croods: A New Age led the way again with $1.72 million.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, February 28 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Tom & Jerry Warner Bros. Studios $5,600,000 $5,600,000 ~2,200 NEW
The Croods: A New Age Universal Pictures $1,300,000 $52,500,000 1,912 -24%
The Little Things Warner Bros. Studios $965,000 $13,000,000 ~1,800 -16%
The Marksman Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment $690,000 $12,325,000 1,414 -12%
Wonder Woman 1984 Warner Bros. Studios $640,000 $43,625,000 ~1,250 -20%
Judas and the Black Messiah Warner Bros. Studios $590,000 $1,725,000 ~1,200 -32%
Monster Hunter Sony / Columbia $460,000 $14,000,000 1,238 -12%
Land Focus Features $410,000 $2,150,000 1,349 -18%
Nomadland Disney / Searchlight Pictures $360,000 $985,000* ~1,250 -28%
News of the World Universal Pictures $220,000 $12,000,000 992 -9%
The War with Grandpa 101 Studios $195,000 $20,575,000 621 -16%

* Estimate / Projection; Running totals as yet unreported by Searchlight Pictures

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

Theater are counts 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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Photo Credits: Warner Bros. ("Tom & Jerry"); Universal Pictures ("The Croods: A New Age"); Warner Bros. / John Schwartzman ("The Little Things")