The prehistoric Croods are challenged by the rival family of the Bettermans, who claim to be better and have evolved more.
“The Croods: A New Age,” which hits movie theaters on Thanksgiving, is a rare bright spot for executives who have been forced to show older films at discounted prices for the past few months.
While some smaller budget films have shown this fall, these titles do not draw the crowds that movie theaters need to survive. The animated story of a prehistoric family will be one of the first releases with a budget in excess of $ 50 million since “Tenet” debuted domestically in September.
Cinema owners are hopeful that the Dreamworks film will attract parents and children back to the theater despite continued surges in coronavirus cases and the threat of increased closures. But industry analysts aren’t so optimistic that the family-friendly title will be a box office savior.
“The spike in cases suggests to me that only the bully will go to the theater with their children,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush.
The film follows the Croods, a family voiced by Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener and Ryan Reynolds, as they search for a safe place to call home. The family discover a fortified paradise already inhabited by another family, called the Bettermans.
Tensions increase between the families, but those differences will have to be put aside when a new threat forces them to leave the security of their new home. Rounding out the voice cast are Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran as the Bettermans.
“The first movie was cute, but it was 7 years ago, and it just doesn’t have the kind of follow-up you need for a sequel to get people to risk their lives,” Pachter said. “I think it’s going to be a non-event in theaters.”
In 2013, “The Croods” garnered $ 43.6 million during its opening weekend in the US and Canada, a figure the sequel won’t come close to touching over its first weekend.
At best, “The Croods: A New Age” could reach between $ 10 million and $ 15 million in its first five days, said Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst, citing conversations with other industry analysts.
However, that figure might be too optimistic. Universal, which owns Dreamworks Animation, has started bargains with multiple cinema chains that would allow it to film premium video on demand as soon as 17 days after theatrical release.
Stone said families may be reluctant to visit theaters and opt out until the film is available digitally.
The United States continues to report coronavirus infections, with the seven-day national average of daily new cases hitting 170,855 on Sunday, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
“I think ‘Croods’ is the last theatrical release we’re going to see this year,” Pachter said. “It’s going to be so bad in two weeks that governors will have to step in.”
Two weeks ago, there were 2,800 theaters open in the US, representing about 51% of open theaters during the same time last year, according to data from Comscore. This latest weekend, some 2,100 theaters are open – less than 40% of what was open last year.
“I think right now the biggest issue affecting the box office is a lot of municipalities are forcing theaters to close because of the increasing number of Covid cases,” said Eric Handler, managing director of equity research media and entertainment for MKM Partners.
“With limited theater occupations, reduced show times and people who are filming a little confused about whether or not theaters are even open, it is going to be difficult for any film to succeed at this time , “he said. “I imagine ‘Croods 2’ is doing a little better than some other recent releases but that doesn’t say much.”
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.