'Croods 2' Tops Troubled Thanksgiving Box Office With $14M

The family film actually did better than expected considering the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, resulting in hundreds of theater reclosures in recent days.

Despite the most challenged Thanksgiving box office in modern times, The Croods: A New Age managed to come in ahead of projections with a five-day holiday debut of $14.2 million, including $9.7 million for the weekend.

Overseas, the family film launched in seven markets to $20.8 million — led by $19.2 million in China — for a global bow of $35 million.

While that's the lowest Thanksgiving chart-topper in decades, Universal and DreamWorks Animation still had reason to celebrate.

Croods 2 is the first major studio film to brave opening on the big screen since Tenet and narrowly came in ahead of Tenet ($9.3 million) for the three-day weekend to mark the top debut since the pandemic began. Also, it's better-than-expected performance shows that a family film can work during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. (According to PostTrak, 41 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 17.)

The animated film, playing in 2,211 theaters, opened after hundreds of theaters reclosed in recent days because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. And those cinemas that remain in operation are dealing with dramatically reduced capacity and stay-at-home orders.

"This shows that even with a difficult theatrical landscape, people want to come out and get together. The film is incredibly charming," says Jim Orr, Universal's distribution chief.

Thanksgiving is normally one of the most lucrative corridors of the year. Last year, Disney and Pixar's Frozen 2 collected more than $100 million over the long four-day weekend (Thursday through Sunday). It finished the weekend with a domestic total of $288 million after opening a week earlier on Friday, Nov. 22.

Universal is able to stay in the theatrical game because of a landmark deal it struck with AMC Theatres and Cinemark Theatres that shatters the traditional theatrical window by allowing Universal titles to go to premium VOD early.

Croods 2 will be available on PVOD in roughly three weeks, in time for Christmas.

The movie's voice cast sees the return of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman. Franchise newcomers include Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran.

Joel Crawford helmed the sequel in his feature directorial debut from a screenplay by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan.