"Tom & Jerry" earned $13.7 million this weekend while available for free to HBO Max subscribers. For theaters, that's a mixed blessing at best.
A year ago, if one film generated two-thirds of the weekend’s total business, that would mean it likely opened to over $75 million. It would be a sign of a dominant film expected to soar, and a cue for other studios to get out of the way. This weekend, the live-action/animated reboot “Tom & Jerry” hit those marks with $13.7 million, the second-highest opening since the pandemic shutdowns began.
Tom and Jerry movie reference:
Here’s what makes that number truly impressive: As a Warner Bros. title, it’s also showing for free at home for HBO Max subscribers. (We don’t have any data on its streaming performance.) By comparison, “The Croods: A New Age” earned $14.3 million in its five-day opening weekend in late November, but it was a four-week theatrical exclusive.
The most reasonable conclusion here isn’t that audiences prefer “Tom & Jerry” to “Croods 2,” which was a sequel to a $200 million title; it’s that theatrical interest has increased. For exhibitors, that’s a pyrrhric victory. It suggests that Warners has no reason to change its current day-and-date policy and it could encourage other studios to do the same. Disney will go this route for “Raya and the Last Dragon” next week, but there’s no longer-term strategy — yet.
This was a week of encouraging news for theaters. In New York City they will be permitted to open (with 25 percent capacity) March 5. At the Paramount+ announcement February 24, Paramount said its films will have a 30-day theatrical exclusive for most titles, and 45 days for anticipated hits like “Top Gun: Maverick.”
The Top 10 grossed about $19.5 million this weekend, with all titles taking in perhaps $21.5 million. That’s the best weekend since Christmas, and second best since theaters began reopening. Next weekend, “Raya” should boost numbers higher. This time last year saw the first signs of patrons losing interest as news of the pandemic took center stage. Led by “The Invisible Man,” the top 10 saw $83 million and $97 million overall.
Today, open markets represent a bit under 75 percent of the available audience. If it were 100 percent, “Tom & Jerry” would project to $18 million-$19 million. Remove COVID-19 anxiety and perhaps it could have grossed $25 million or more. That doesn’t take increased competition into consideration, but it’s a baseline for parallel-date playing. For theaters, it suggests enough to survive as long as there’s multiple other releases — and, that it’s very unlikely we’ll return to anything like pre-COVID revenues.
Eight of the top 10 titles have home options. “Croods 2” finally dropped its Premium VOD price this weekend to $5.99, and it still ranked #2 at the box office. Oscar contenders “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Nomadland” also are streaming (HBO Max and Hulu, respectively); they each fell more than 30 percent.
“Judas” was hurt by losing 556 low-grossing theaters in its third week, with a 45 percent drop and sixth-place showing. Searchlight continues to hide the results for “Nomadland” to an unprecedented degree. Our estimate from industry sources is $343,000 for its second wide weekend, down 34 percent. Apart from the home alternatives, the older-adult core audiences for these films are less likely to risk going to theaters.
“Crisis” with Gary Oldman and Armie Hammer, unreported and per estimates just below the top 10, did about $195,000 in 230 theaters. It hits PVOD next Friday. An IMAX-based release of “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” also on Apple TV, did around $140,000 in 139 theaters. “The Mauritanian,” which goes PVOD on Tuesday, reported $118,000 in 287.
The Top 10
1. Tom & Jerry (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 32; Est. budget: $50 million; also available on HBO Max
$13,710,000 in 2,475 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $5,539; Cumulative: $13,710,000
2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 14; Last weekend #1; also available on Video on Demand
$1,210,000 (-30%) in 1,912 theaters (-1); PTA: $633,000; Cumulative: $52,385,000
3. The Little Things (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #2; also available on HBO Max
$925,000 (-24%) in 1,853 theaters (-208); PTA: $499; Cumulative: $12,900,000
4. Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.) Week 10; Last weekend #4; also available on Premium VOD
$710,000 (-12%) in 1,534 theaters (-110); PTA: $463; Cumulative: $43,600,000
5. The Marksman (Open Road) Week 7; Last weekend #5
$700,000 (-10%) in 1,414 theaters (-219); PTA: $495; Cumulative: $12,345,000
6. Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #3; also available on HBO Max
$500,000 (-45%) in 1,350 theaters (-556); PTA: $370; Cumulative: $4,100,000
7. Monster Hunter (Sony) Week 11; Last weekend #6; also available on Premium VOD
$460,000 (-12%) in 1,238 theaters (-73); PTA: $372; Cumulative: $14,004,000
8. Land (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #8
$355,000 (-29%) in 1,349 theaters (+98); PTA: $263; Cumulative: $2,100,000
9. Nomadland (Searchlight) Week 5; Last weekend #7; also available on Hulu
est.) 343,000 (-34%) in 1,200 theaters (+25); PTA: $286; Cumulative: est.) 1,600,000
10. News of the World (Universal) Week 10; Last weekend #9; also available on Premium VOD.
$200,000 (-18%) in 992 theaters (-169); PTA: $202; Cumulative: $1,960,000