The long Presidents Day holiday weekend is always interesting at the box office, and this year is no different even without a Hollywood blockbuster.
Universal is projecting that Croods 2 grossed an estimated $2.05 million from 1,890 locations for the three-day weekend — a 3 percent uptick — and $2.7 million for the four-day holiday frame. Croods' domestic total through Monday is an estimated $48.9 million as the DreamWorks Animation title crosses $151 million worldwide.
That's far more than anyone expected for the family pic, which opened in cinemas at Thanksgiving amid a surge in COVID-19 cases before being made available on premium VOD around Christmas. Box office analysts are hard-pressed to remember another film that shot shock back to No. 1 in its 12th outing, at least in modern times.
Shaka King's Judas and the Black Messiah — starring LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya and Dominique Fishback — opened to an estimated $2.07 million from 1,888 cinemas for the three days and $2.5 million for the four. Warner insiders note that continued cinema closures in many major markets and storms across the country made the situation tough for the adult drama, despite the movie's glowing reviews and a promising A CinemaScore.
There's always a chance that the order of the weekend's top films once final numbers are tallied on Tuesday.
By far the biggest box-office headline of the weekend, however, was overseas where Detective Chinatown 3 celebrated the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year by opening to a staggering $393 million at the Chinese box office. The film, shot entirely with Imax cameras, did big business in Imax theaters in the Middle Kingdom, which generated a record-breaking $23.5 million in ticket sales.
Hollywood executives took delight in the results, saying it means that people will return to the movies in the U.S. when all cinemas are able to reopen (according to Comscore, only 37 percent are currently operating).
Like all of Warner Bros.' 2021 titles, Judas is debuting day and date domestically in cinemas and on HBO Max due to the ongoing pandemic and theater closures in numerous major markets, making it difficult to gauge its performance in cinemas because of the HBO Max factor.
Numbers weren't immediately available for fellow Warners adult drama The Little Things, now in its third weekend after debuting to $4.7 million two weeks ago. The star-studded crime neo-noir film features Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto.
The Little Things earned an estimated $2.04 million for the three days and $2.47 from 2,090 cinemas — almost tying with Judas — for a 10-day domestic total of $10.7 million and $17.1 million globally. The film dropped 55 percent.
Before the pandemic began, every major studio and other films distributors allowed their grosses to be viewed by their rivals via Comscore (Netflix being a major exception). That changed when the COVID-19 crisis struck, with Warners deciding to obscure Comscore numbers and only report them to the media on Sunday.
Sony quickly followed suit, at least on a film's opening weekend. While Sony and Warners are still giving out numbers to the press on the weekends, some companies aren't even doing that. Over Presidents Day weekend, A24 didn't report opening numbers for Minari; ditto with Searchlight for Nomadland. The two films, along with Judas and The Black Messiah and The Little Things, are all competing in the awards race.
HBO Max has not revealed viewership numbers for Warner Bros.' titles, or how many new subscribers these offerings have brought in.
Elsewhere in the top 10, STX debuted Land in 1,231 locations. The drama, marking Robin Wright's feature directorial debut, opened to $1.1 million for the four days.
Feb. 15, 9:45 a.m. Updated with revised numbers.