The Croods is a digitally animated comedy that follows the world's first modern family, and is the first DreamWorks Animation film Fox is distributing as part of a new agreement struck last year—it's hitting 5,850 screens in the US, about 1,200 of them in 3-D. With the stock down more than 26 percent over the past few years while the Dow has gained more than 20 percent over the same period, the company could use the kind of hit that could also create a multi-film franchise.
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The Croods has a timing advantage—there are no other big kids movies hitting theaters until late spring, when Fox's digitally-animated 3-D movie "Epic" opens at the end of May. The hope is that the new film will perform like the studio's "How to Train your Dragon," which in 2010 opened with $43 million at the U.S. box office opening weekend, but performed well for the following two months, ultimately grossing nearly $500 million worldwide. That slow, steady performance was enough for Dreamworks Animation to commission a sequel, hitting theaters next summer, along with a TV show, "Dragons: Riders of Berk," which Cartoon Network (owned by Viacom) picked up.
DreamWorks Animation releases so few films every year that each one has an impact on the company's bottom line and stock performance.
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