Sunday AM Update: Universal’s estimates for DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age didn’t veer greatly from what we were seeing yesterday for the weekend, with a $9.7M 3-day, $14.2M 5-day and global grab of $35M. On a 3-day U.S./Canada basis, this is the biggest opening during the pandemic since theaters re-opened, even beating Warner Bros. Tenet. The 3-day of Tenet‘s full domestic over Labor Day was $9.35M according to Comscore.
As we mentioned all along, by historical Thanksgiving B.O. records, these numbers are awful. But by pandemic standards, these are some of the best B.O. figures we’ve seen, and that’s largely because Universal spent to promote the movie. Also, families came out. Back when exhibition was re-opening, studies showed that families would be the slowest and most cautious to return to the cinemas. It appears Universal has busted a leak in that dam this past weekend: Croods 2 brought in 54% females (moms) and an audience that was 70% under 25. As one distribution executive put it this past weekend about forecasting numbers, “Nowadays you have to look ahead five minutes in the future, not five days” about the market’s unpredictability, with B.O. hubs like Los Angeles, most of California, NYC, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico still closed.
Said Universal US distribution Boss Jim Orr about Uni’s commitment to Croods 2 even as theaters began to close nationwide in recent weeks, falling out of the studio’s grasp, “We unleashed the best in industry marketing to drive as many people to as many opened theaters as we possibly could, and the results speak for themselves.”
Typically, wide releases of late have had marketing spends in the $1M-$10M range, and iSpot shows that around $27M was spent in US TV ads for Croods 2 by Uni. Marketing spend here for Croods 2 is weighted differently than the typical theatrical release due to the pic’s PVOD release on the horizon.
Adds Orr about the family turnout this past five days, “When you have an incredible charming film, people want to come out and want to be together in a theater. Those that do, did, and enjoyed the Croods: A New Age very much.”
Social media monitor RelishMix noticed the results of Uni’s big push for Croods 2, reporting, “Over the last year, with the birth of Peacock and the convergence of the DreamWorks family of YouTube channels and the Universal Kids portfolio, the new and improved Peacock Kids on YouTube (8.1M subs) has become an ideal launchpad for family titles. Given the Covid-19 state of the biz, the Social Media Universe campaign intensity for Croods: A New Age sits on par (301.7M norm SMU), with genre norms for Family Animated, with 283.5M reach and engagement across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. The greatest reach is driven by the Uni Facebook, with 30.5M fans, and biggest driver of activity is the well-boosted Official Trailer on Peacock YouTube with 45.5M views.
Total views on YouTube crossed over to 103.9M on 80+ clips, the EOR viral reposting rate is strong at 21:1, and additional Facebook videos are at 47.6M for 35 videos. On TikTok, Croods 2 has 458k followers and 31 nicely viewed videos, as all studios cautiously explore the platform.”
Notable materials on social included Croods 2 stars Leslie Mann, Kelly Marie Tran, and Emma Stone participating in a Zoom on the Peacock Kids YouTube channel, which targets 8.1M subscribers. The channel is a mash-up of Universal Kids, Dreamworks animation, and digital TV channels over the last 7 years. Stone appeared on The Tonight Show, revealing how Monica from Friends was her inspiration for voice-acting in Croods. Also, Atlanta Hawks hoopster Trea Young stepped in for a Croods 2 spot, “Get Your Sloth On,” which aired on ESPN.
China fueled the bulk of Croods 2‘s overseas at $19.2M at 10K locations, with the starting result there being triple that of the first Croods movie, which ended its box office at $63.3M. On Sunday, Croods 2 beat ($7.3M) local titles Caught in Time ($4.6M) and One Second ($3.2M), respectively. Imax theaters numbering 868 delivered $2.6M to Croods 2‘s global tally; $500K of that from 175 U.S. venues, $2M from 671 China sites.
Orr further adds about the notable results here for the sequel during the pandemic, “The Croods: A New Age further solidifies Dreamworks Animation’s impeccable reputation of creating beautifully animated films and quality family entertainment with global appeal. We are very proud of our ability to continue to support our exhibition partners in whatever ways we can as we look to bring audiences a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times, making this holiday weekend debut of The Croods especially gratifying in this difficult theatrical landscape.”
Where does Croods 2 go from here at the domestic B.O. now that there’s a PVOD release in near sight? (I hear the movie is getting a jump ahead of Disney+’s Christmas Day drop of Soul). Analysts believe the pic has at least a 3x multiple of its 3-day domestic opening result (~$42M). Croods 2 before P&A cost $65M, which is 52% lower than the cost of the first Croods ($135M) under then-DWA boss Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Uni’s absorption of DWA entailed cutting down the cost of its movies. Uni is quite excited to see the end results of Croods 2 in their financial ledgers, given their new dynamic window approach, with the pic playing roughly three weeks in theaters exclusively before PVOD. As has been reported, this past April’s PVOD release of DWA’s Trolls World Tour minted close to $100M domestic.
As far as how Croods 2 played across a broken exhibition nation: I hear the top theaters were largely indoor, with only two drive-ins. Drive-ins, given the cold weather, are becoming less prominent at the box office, their numbers dwindling from 320 at a season’s high to about 183 locations currently open. Croods 2 played best in the South and the Mountain area, the latter typically a solid region for family films. Top markets were Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Orlando, Atlanta, Austin, San Antonio, Tampa, Kansas City, Las Vegas, among others.
The top 10 as we see it for this past weekend:
- Croods: A New Age (Uni)2,211 theaters, 3-day: $9.7M, 5-day $14.2M/Wk 1
- Freaky(Uni)1,735 theaters (-322), 3-day: $770K (-40%), 5-day: $1.1M/Total: $7M/Wk 3
- War With Grandpa(101) 1,500 (-188) theaters, 3-day: $644K (-14%)/5-day: $892K/ Total: $17.2M/Wk 8
- Let Him Go (Foc) 1,447 theaters (-460), 3-day: $453K (-37%)/5-day: $670K, Total: $8.7M/Wk 4
- Come Play(Foc) 1,029 (-335) theaters, 3-day: $387K (-31%)/5-day $520K, Total: $8.7M/Wk 5
- Honest Thief (Open) 975 (-279) theaters, 3-day: $350K(-22%) 5-day: $465K/Total: $13.5M/Wk 8
- Elf( NL) 700 theaters (+425), 3-day: $315K (+75%), 5-day $427K,Total: $175M/Wk 3 of re-release
- Tenet(WB) 656 theaters (-208) 3-day: $300K (-16%), 5-day: $440K Total: $57.4M/Wk 13
- The Santa Clause (Dis) 1,090 (-491) theaters, 3-day: $170K/5-day: $245k/Total $145.6M/Wk 2 of re-release
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (WB) 325 theaters, 3-day $169K, 5-day: $218K/Total: $72.9M /Wk 1 or re-release
Vanguard (Gravitas) 800 (-575), 3-day: $165K (-59%)/5-day $240K/Total: $694K/Wk 2
Saturday AM Update: This is what happens when a major studio spends a bit more money on P&A than just a paltry single digit sum to open a film in a world where not all movie theaters are open: Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, is on its way to grossing $14.2M over 5-days at the domestic B.O. and $35.8M WW through Sunday.
I hear yesterday was close to $4M for Croods 2, which shows a typical surge on Black Friday, and the best daily gross for Croods 2 so far. Following Tenet, which made an estimated $10M in its first domestic weekend (Warners never broke that figure out), when significantly more theaters and markets were open, Croods 2 is posting the second-best opening at the B.O. during the pandemic.
That said, by all previous Thanksgiving box office standards, Croods 2 at $14M+ would be deemed a disaster. The movie is part of Uni’s new truncated window experiment with AMC, Cinemark, and Cineplex, whereby the sequel will premiere on PVOD by Christmas Day.
While we already told you that Cinemascore was at an A for the DWA sequel, Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak also yielded good audience exits, with 83% in the top two boxes and a 59% definite recommend. Kids under 12 gave it, respectively, 92%, with a 70% definite recommend. Forty-one percent were under 17, with women skewing at 54%, meaning families went.
Over Friday-Sunday, Uni expects to make $9.7M with $21.6M from seven offshore markets ($20M of that from China alone).
In China, The Croods: A New Age is playing at 10K locales, looking to topple local pics Caught in Time and One Second for the No. 1 spot. The weekend tally is above Hotel Transylvania 3 (+14%), Coco (+15%), Finding Dory (+15), and Toy Story 4 (+18%), in line with Ralph Breaks The Internet and The Incredibles 2. Croods 2 reps the third-biggest MPA opening (after Tenet and Mulan) since cinemas re-opened in the PRC.
All films in U.S./Canada in those areas where theaters were open saw upticks in their Thanksgiving-to-Black Friday numbers.
1.) Croods: A New Age (Uni) Fri $3.86M (+41% over Thursday), 3-day $9.7M, 5-day: $14.2M/Wk 1
2.) Freaky (Uni) Fri $270K (+53%), 3-day $680K (-47%), 5-day $1M, $6.9M total/Wk 3
3.) War With Grandpa (101) Fri $230K (+15%), 3-day: $590K (-21%), $890K (+6%), $17.2M total/Wk 8
4.) Let Him Go (Foc) Fri $170K (+17%) 3-day $427K (-41%) 5-day $650K, $8.7M total/Wk 4
5.) Come Play (Uni) Fri $130K (+81%), 3-day $338K (-40%), 5 day $465K/ $8.6M total/Wk 5
Friday AM Update: Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age saw a 46% jump in business on Thanksgiving from its opening day, moving from $1.9 million to $2.7M. All in, Croods 2 has made $4.6M stateside. Even though this a miniscule amount of money next to Thanksgiving movies like Frozen 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, etc., that reaped mounds of money in previous years, typically business eases on Thanksgiving for big tentpoles as people are sidelined at home. For example, Frozen II saw a drop in its daily box office of 38% and Ralph 2 45% on their respective Thanksgiving Days in 2019 and 2018.
However, in the case of the pandemic, it looks like families needed something to do after dinner Thursday (where it was safe).
In fact, most movies saw upticks between their Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day grosses: No. 2 War With Grandpa from 101 Studios was +57% with $190,000, for a $16.7M cume; No. 3 Universal/Blumhouse’s Freaky at $175K, +8%, $6.3M cume; No. 4 Focus Features’ Let Him Go with $148K, +62%, $8.3M cume; and No. 5 Open Road’s Honest Thief with $75K, +88%, with $13.2M. Despite the Thanksgiving bump, grosses are so far off from what they are in a normal marketplace: The top 20 movies yesterday grossed close to $4M, while 53 tracked titles during Thanksgiving 2019 made $35.3M, according to Box Office Mojo.
Normally in any other year Black Friday is a huge moviegoing day, but it remains to be seen what happens today; Uni is providing a three-day and five-day estimate tomorrow for Croods 2.
The Croods: A New Age also fired off in China on Thursday with a first day of $3M, or RMB 20M. Uni reports that it’s the third-biggest opening day for a Hollywood title in China in 2020, behind Tenet and Mulan. The pic’s opening Friday is pacing at the same level in the PRC as the first 2013 film, which was released on a Saturday. Boosted by strong advance ticket sales and a great Maoyan and Taopiaopiao ratings of 9.1, Croods 2 is in photo-finish with two local titles, Caught in Time and One Second, for No. 1; still yet to be determined.
Thanksgiving Update: Universal’s release of DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age stayed on target from what we saw yesterday with an opening Wednesday of $1.85M in a very broken exhibition landscape where there’s only 2,650 theaters open right now out of national footprint of 5,5K. Croods 2 is booked at 2,211 theaters. Five-day projections are unpredictable as we don’t know how business will play out during the pandemic; there’s hope that Croods 2 might do $10M by Sunday, but that’s a lofty hope. In a normal market, moviegoing eases on Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday is one of the busiest B.O. days of the year. Lord knows what the trends are now.
The overall U.S./Canada theater count of 2,65K is lower this weekend than the number of theaters which were open during Freaky‘s first weekend on Nov. 13-15, a time when well over 50% of the nation’s movie theaters had the light on, i.e. California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico — all closed now with other exhibitors contending with capacity and curfew limitations. Croods 2‘s opening day is light years away from what its 2013 first installment did during a normal marketplace with an opening day on March 22 that year of $11.6M, a 3-day of $43.6M and a final domestic of $187.1M, $587.2M WW.
The Croods: A New Age notched an A CinemaScore on its opening day, on par with the first movie. Critics are at 71% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, not far from the first movie’s 72%.
The goods news for those exhibitors braving it is that Universal spent to open this movie, promoting via their NBC Universal and Comcast tentacles aka their Symphony program along with hefty promotional partners like Vizio, Chime, Burger King, especially for the pandemic. We can see the results of Uni’s ad spend here (estimated to be around $27M in TV spots per iSpot) at the box office as Croods 2‘s opening day is arguably the second best opening day on record since cinemas reopened during the pandemic ranking after Disney/20th Century Studios’ $3.1M first day of New Mutants back in August (We do not know what Tenet did on its opening day as Warner Bros never reported, and remember, the movie was confined to Canada then). Croods 2 blew away its holdover competition (most of it from Uni) yesterday, i.e. 2.) Freaky with around $160K, $6.1M cume, 3.) War With Grandpa with $120K, $16.5M cume, 4.) Let Him Go with $90K, $8.1M total, 5.) Come Play with $80K, $8.3M total.
Uni is optimistic about Croods 2‘s launch abroad in seven offshore markets, and will tout that number by Sunday, particularly China; the first 2013 movie (released by 20th Century Fox) grossing $63.3M in the PRC. Croods 2 is also opening in Singapore and the Middle East this weekend. The studio is also excited to see how the sequel turns out roughly 30 days from now once it drops on PVOD. Already available to rent at $19.99 in home are Focus Features’ Come Play and Let Him Go.
On the downside, the Thanksgiving box office stretch will be the worst ever on record because nothing is normal out there. Last year, the 5-day holiday was the second best per Comscore with $263.65M. The year before, 2018, set a box office holiday record with $315.4M. Frozen 2, in its second weekend, set a Thanksgiving record with $125M last year, the most made by any movie over the holiday’s five-day stretch. With studios like Warner Bros looking to have both cuts of their pie by releasing Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters and HBO Max on Christmas, and Godzilla vs. Kong poised to follow a similar form of release in 2021, and more studios poised to push more big pics onto PVOD or their streaming services, we cannot proclaim moviegoing as being dead. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Local safety protocols are stringent not only for cinemas, but restaurants as well. To say that moviegoing will be dead in the future, is to also say that concerts, live sporting events and cruises are dead too. We’re social creatures of habit, and once we truly know it’s safe out there with a vaccine taking its full effect, studios should regain faith in regards to re-investing in a theatrical release. The Spanish flu of 1918 didn’t annihilate the entire 20th century.
More on Croods 2. While other major studios vacated the theatrical release calendar post Tenet‘s lackluster launch at the B.O., even with Disney pulling Soul out of Thanksgiving in exchange for a Dec. 25 Disney+ release, Uni stayed committed to Croods: A New Age in theaters, blasting off the trailer in September to 42M views in its first 24-hours, now over 300M to date. Uni teamed with TikTok to utilize influencer platforms for multiple challenges leading up to release, i.e. “Crood Perfect” a riff on the popular Dude Perfect trick shot series, Beauty Transformation and Awkward Slow Dance duet which racked up more than 25M views from influencer posts and an impressive 24M views altogether.
The band HAIM dropped the song “Feel The Thunder” from the sequel across social media platforms. There’ was a special promotional partnership with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing allowing gamers to visit the Croods’ and Bettermans’ family at the Croods Cove. Celebrities and influencers known in this space were sent promotions and major Animal Crossing players have been hosted on dedicated tours with videos nearing 100K views.
Universal teamed with Feeding America, giving fans the opportunity to see a special screening of The Croods: A New Age via a drive-in experience located at Universal Citywalk. This experience featured immersive set pieces and photo ops for fans all without leaving the security of their cars.
Via the Comcast/NBCUniversal Symphony program, Croods 2 was advertised on E!, Bravo, Universal Kids, Syfy with custom content on the conglom’s streamer Peacock. Spots were booked during the Stanley Cup Finals, PGA Tour, French Open, NASCAR along with NBCUni holiday programming like today’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and The National Dog Show.