"The Croods: A New Age" stunned at the box office this weekend, hauling in the biggest opening of any film released during the pandemic.
The animated sequel garnered an estimated $9.71 million domestically over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing the five-day Thanksgiving weekend tally to $14.22 million.
Internationally, the Dreamworks film is on track to post $20.8 million in ticket sales, bringing the global haul to around $35 million for its debut.
"Given the constraints of the marketplace, the performance of 'The Croods: A New Age' shows that family audiences were indeed interested in going out to the movie theater," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, said. "Despite the availability of the film on home video in the not-too-distant future, experiencing the film on the big screen had appeal for audiences around the world who showed up in solid numbers."
There was some skepticism about how well "The Croods: A New Age" could perform over the Thanksgiving weekend. Leading up to the holiday, coronavirus cases had continued to surge to new highs and the number of theaters open to the public was shrinking. There were fears that moviegoers would skip out on a trip to the cinema.
As of Sunday, the number of open theaters in the U.S. and Canada was 2,267, around 38% of the cinemas open during the same time last year.
Instead, the film drew the biggest box office opening since Disney's "Onward" was released in March prior to nationwide lockdowns. This figure also beats Warner Bros.' "Tenet," which had an opening of $9.35 million over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.
"For this film to outperform expectations in a less-than-half operational market and post the highest opening so far in the pandemic era indicates that moviegoers, especially families, miss the big screen experience and are seeking it out where safe and possible to do so," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, said. "The industry still has a challenging road ahead through winter, but 'Croods' debut is a preliminary sign of the resilience cinemas can show in the long run."
Including all movies that played over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the box office scored $13.6 million in ticket sales. That's the best overall weekend haul since the Friday, Saturday and Sunday tally from Labor Day weekend, which reached $16.2 million, according to data from Comscore.
The five-day total for the full Thanksgiving weekend, which adds together box office sales from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday is not yet available, as not all studios provided data for Wednesday and Thursday sales. That number is expected to be reported Monday.
As it stands, despite a strong showing from "The Croods" sequel, it is very likely that the 2020 Thanksgiving box office will be the worst in decades. The furthest recorded Thanksgiving box office in Comscore's database is in 1984 when the five-day weekend garnered $46.8 million. There's no conceivable way for this year's Thanksgiving haul to come close to that figure.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks Animation.