Last week New York City opened a number of its movie theaters. On Monday, Los Angeles is opening many of theirs. By May 1 we have been told that vaccines will be available to every adult in the country. July 4 – even with the recommendation of limited gatherings – is about to take on a whole new meaning. Could the sky be the limit for Top Gun: Maverick opening that week? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We still need to take this week by week. And this weekend we look to see if the top numbers tell us anything new….
Last week’s numbers for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon seemed to put a red light on the progress some saw the week earlier with Tom & Jerry. It would have been cheaper for any party of two (and some parties of one) to invest in HBO Max to see Tom & Jerry at home than paying theater prices, and yet it still bested Raya by over 65% when you compare both films’ opening weekends. Nevertheless, Raya’s numbers in the context of screen count – relative to movies with similar screen counts released since 2010 – plus the obstacle of limited-capacity theaters, were not nearly as troublesome as some may have been quick to label them. How do this week’s numbers look?
With only a little more than half of the nation’s theaters in play (most with only 25% capacity), Raya and the Last Dragon grossed an estimated $5.5 million. That is down 35% from last weekend with another 118 theaters added to its run. Right up front, that is tied for the ninth best weekend for any film during the pandemic and tied for third best second weekend for any film behind Tenet last September 11-13 ($6.7 million), Tom & Jerry last weekend ($6.6 million), and estimated to be tied with Wonder Woman 1984. Raya may not catch up to Tom & Jerry, being more than $7 million off its current pace. But it is only about $1.2 million off of where The Croods: A New Age was after 10 days, during the holiday season when COVID numbers were beginning to spike again.
The Croods sequel has had the benefit of several holiday weekends and a lack of new releases. Despite it being available on home video now, the film is still fifth at the national box office inching its way towards Tenet‘s $57.9 million domestic haul. Raya may not get there but it certainly has another number 1 weekend coming before Nobody and Godzilla vs. Kong test the theater system. If The Croods: A New Age has managed to stay in the top five at the box office for 16 straight weeks, Raya and the Last Dragon is not going anywhere until at least the week before Memorial Day. The numbers are only going to get stronger and the trends in the rising percentages of vaccinations and theaters opening are only going to help them along. Week by week.
Hard to believe it was less than two years ago that we were watching Avengers: Endgame make its way towards becoming the highest-grossing film ever worldwide. Remember: It took a re-release to make that happen (and it still trails Star Wars: The Force Awakens domestically.) But it only took two days for James Cameron’s Avatar to reclaim its crown. The film was re-released in China this weekend and through Saturday had grossed $12.3 million, putting its global total at $2.802 billion. Cameron had congratulated the Russos when Endgame took the top spot in 2019 and it is easy to see that this could be a back-and-forth that just goes on forever as a new Marvel Phase begins to take hold, not to mention four more Avatar sequels on the way. One thing is for certain is that the title is no longer a studio point of pride since Disney bought Fox. It is now just competing with itself – and The Force Awakens is theirs too.
March 12: In 2010, Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island grossed $2.4 million on its 22nd day to cross the $100 million line. It was just the third film in the director’s career to pass the milestone after 2004’s The Aviator and 2006’s The Departed. In 2013, The Wolf of Wall Street would become the fourth.
March 13: Just one year ago, three new movies opened. It was the last time a film would open in over 2,000 theaters until The New Mutants did some 24 weeks later. See “This Time Last Year” below for more on this weekend in 2020.
March 14: In 2013, Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful grossed $5.1 million on this day to cross the $100 million mark in its seventh day. No doubt the film that inspired Oz to give this time frame a shot was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which grossed $18.5 million on 10th day of release to cross $200 million.
One year ago was the last semi-true box office weekend of the pre-pandemic era. Tom Hanks announced he was COVID-positive on March 10, the NBA shut down, and soon theaters were to follow. The weekend was won by Pixar’s Onward for the second straight week, but with a 72.9% drop from its opening, earning only $10.6 million. New openers that weekend suffered, too: Bloodshot ($9.17 million), I Still Believe ($9.10 million), and The Hunt ($5.3 million), which had once been removed from the schedule indefinitely from the previous September. Bad Boys for Life had already crossed the $200 million line on March 7. Along with Onward ($61.5 million overall), two other films were destined to be stuck in the $60 million category: The Invisible Man ($64.91 million) and The Call of the Wild ($62.34 million). Nearly every theater in the country was shut down by the next weekend.
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[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]