Copy of Film_Review_-_The_Croods__A_New_Age_10612.jpg-399cf-1606714691623
(Clockwise, from top left) Sandy Crood (Kailey Crawford), Grug Crood (Nicolas Cage), Thunk Crood (Clark Duke), Gran (Cloris Leachman), Eep Crood (Emma Stone) and Ugga Crood (Catherine Keener) in DreamWorks Animation's The Croods: A New Age, directed by Joel Crawford. Image Credit: AP

Testing a novel release strategy, Universal Pictures’ animated sequel ‘The Croods: A New Age’ had one of the best opening weekends of the pandemic, grossing $14.2 million (Dh52.16 million) over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Whereas new releases have traditionally lasted around 90 days in theatres, Universal has mapped out a shorted theatrical window in deals with major chains AMC and Cinemark that gives the studio the option to move new releases to premium video on demand after just 17 days. ‘The Croods: A New Age’ is expected to shift to the home before Christmas for a $20 rental. For an industry reeling from the pandemic, it’s part of wider changes seeping through the industry.

‘The Croods: A New Age’ grossed $9.7 million Friday-Sunday, which rivals even the weekend start for ‘Tenet’ in September. Warner Bros didn’t break down the three-day weekend figures for ‘Tenet,’ which began preview screenings in the US on a Monday, but said it grossed $20.2 million in its first week in US theatres plus its first two weeks in Canadian theatres.

While the opening for ‘The Croods: A New Age’ was something Hollywood hadn’t seen in months — a movie that outperformed expectations — it was still only a sliver of what the industry usually sees in the typically busy holiday movie season. Last year, ‘Frozen II’ led all films over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend with $123.7 million, while ‘Knives Out’ scored $41.7 million

Since ‘Tenet’ opened, most larger releases have been postponed or detoured to digital, sometimes while still playing in theatres overseas. The Walt Disney Co steered ‘Mulan’ to a premium purchase on Disney+, but opened in China and elsewhere. Next month, Warner Bros will release ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ simultaneously on HBO Max and in theatres. Disney has uprooted the Pixar animation ‘Soul’ to its streaming platform.

That’s left smaller films to lead what’s left of the box office — about 40 per cent of the normal number of theatres. Most have tapped out around $4 million on opening weekend. The Kevin Costner and Diane Lane film ‘Let Him Go’ debuted with $4.1 million in ticket sales from 2,454 locations earlier this month. The body-swap horror movie ‘Freaky,’ with Vince Vaughn, has been No 1 the last two weekends after debuting with $3.7 million.

One of the biggest differences is that Universal spent more heavily to market the $65 million ‘Croods’ sequel from DreamWorks Animation. It played in 2,211 locations, or about half the usual amount for such a release.

Overseas, the film grossed $20.8 with almost all of that — $19.2 million — coming from China.