Universal could tap into AMC deal as it moves 'Croods 2' to Thanksgiving from Christmas

Key Points
  • Universal Studios' "The Croods: A New Age" will now debut in theaters the day before Thanksgiving. 
  • The film was set to be released just before Christmas.
  • The move could allow Universal to tap into its theatrical deal with AMC Theaters to bring some movies to the home market sooner.

In this article

Still from Dreamworks' "The Croods."

Universal Studios is pushing up the date of its animated family film "The Croods: A New Age" to Thanksgiving. The studio will now debut the film on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, instead of Dec. 23.

The second "Croods" film will follow the prehistoric family voiced by Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener and Ryan Reynolds, as they search for a safe place to call home. The family discovers a walled-in paradise that is already inhabited by another family, called the Bettermans. 

Tensions escalate between the families, but those differences will have to be cast aside when a new threat forces them to leave the safety of their new home.

Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran round out the voice cast as the Bettermans. 

Universal's move may seem counterintuitive considering how many films have been moved later on the 2020 calendar, or even into 2021, but the studio could use "The Croods 2" as a way to test out its new deal with theater chain AMC.

In late July, Universal and AMC agreed to terms that would allow the studio to play a movie for as little as 17 days in theaters before being permitted to release it on premium video on-demand. AMC will get a cut of the revenue streams that come from PVOD sales.

By releasing the second "Croods" film on Thanksgiving, Universal would theoretically be able to bring the film to the home market just ahead of the holidays.

"Studios are making big screen/small screen strategic decisions in real time in reaction to this ever changing and dynamic marketplace," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.

The Dreamworks Animation film could face tough competition from Disney's Pixar film "Soul," which is expected to be released in theaters on Nov. 20. Typically, rival studios try to avoid placing films of similar genres too close together. 

There have been some rumors that "Soul" could be pushed to Disney's streaming service Disney+, but the company wasn't immediately available to comment. Such a decision would not be without precedent. Disney recently released "Mulan" on the streaming service for a premium price of $29.99. 

Although the majority of U.S. movie theaters have reopened, consumers remain leery of returning to the theater and box office sales have been lackluster in recent weeks. 

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.

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