Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of the biggest box office weekends of the year, and despite the pandemic, 2020 is no exception. The difference, of course, is the size of the numbers. In past years, movies like Frozen, Moana, and Knives Out have put up huge Thanksgiving weekend numbers, while this year, the top film at the box office almost broke $10 million, which technically makes it the biggest opening of the pandemic.
Tenet opened on Labor Day weekend, and Warner Bros. reported that it earned $20 million, but that figure was wildly misleading because it included a Thursday-to-Monday Labor Day gross plus an entire week’s worth of grosses in Canada. The actual figure for the three-day weekend was closer to $9.4 million.
For this three-day weekend, Croods: A New Age has bested Tenet, scoring $9.7 million. For the five-day Thanksgiving weekend haul, it earned $14.3 million. That would be considered a huge flop on any other Thanksgiving weekend, but by 2020 standards, that’s an actual hit.
In fact, for the weekend, Croods: A New Age has earned $35 million worldwide, which suggests that the film could actually break even with its $65 million budget theatrically once all the grosses are in around the globe. Still, the real revenue for the Croods sequel is not likely to roll in until Christmas, when it’s made available digitally as part of Universal’s new strategy with various theaters — AMC, Cinemark, and Cineplex — to shrink the theatrical window. The window has been shortened so that they can roll it out on PVOD by Christmas Day.
The downside, unfortunately, is that $14 million worth of ticket buyers went to the movies in the midst of the biggest surge of COVID-19 of the year, which — along with Thanksgiving get-togethers — may contribute to an even bigger surge ahead of a vaccine that will roll out in the coming months. Croods: A New Age, however, is likely the biggest release until Wonder Woman 1984, which hits theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day. Beyond WW, major releases don’t start rolling out again until March with Raya and the Last Dragon, which was supposed to be released this Thanksgiving weekend.
For the record, Croods: A New Age is scoring well with audiences. It received an A Cinemascore and a 95 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to a 72 percent from critics, of which I was one, who gave it a generally good review (I also liked the original).
As for the rest of the weekend’s box office? There’s not much to say, Freaky, the body-swapping horror comedy starring Vince Vaughn, earned $1 million, which was good enough for second place. It’s earned $7 million at the box office, so far. It’s a decent haul for a pandemic, but again, it’s part of a strategy to use the theatrical release to essentially market its PVOD release, which is this Friday, only 17 days after its theatrical release (I’m actually very excited about it).
In at number three is Robert DeNiro’s War with Grandpa, which has quietly earned a respectable $17 million in 7 weeks of release. In fourth place is Kevin Costner’s Let Him Go, which is now out on PVOD, but nevertheless scored $400,000 to bring its three-week total to $8.7 million, which honestly is probably as well as a Kevin Costner and Diane Lane movie would have done in normal times against much stiffer competition.
Speaking of Frozen, the original was released on Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 and earned $93 million over its first five day. It was re-released this weekend by Disney, but came up woefully short of that, earning only $120,000, or $88 per screen. It’s been a long year.