‘Tom & Jerry’ Gives Box Office Some Life With $17.4M Opening

A not-so-distant recovery for movie theatres could be glimpsed Sunday, as Warner Bros.′ live-action-animation hybrid “Tom & Jerry” debuted with $17.4 million ($13.7M USD) in ticket sales, the best domestic opening of the year.

The better-than-expected opening came despite just 42% of U.S. theatres being open, according to data firm Comscore. “Tom & Jerry” also played in 2,475 North American cinemas simultaneously as it did in the home, where it’s streaming on HBO Max for a month.

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Yet “Tom & Jerry” still managed the second-best opening of the pandemic following Warner Bros.′ “Wonder Woman 1984,” which launched with $21 million ($16.7M USD) in December while also landing on HBO Max. The next-closest debuts — “Tenet,” “The Croods: A New Age” — eked out about $12.6 million ($10M USD) on opening weekend.

“With half of theatres still closed, the pandemic still a threat, and ‘Tom & Jerry’ available at home, this is a very good opening,” said David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Under normal circumstances, this weekend would comfortably be above $44.5 million ($35M USD)– a positive sign for the business and for theatrical’s pull over home entertainment.”

 

The film, directed by Tim Story and based on the characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, stars Chloë Grace Moretz.

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Theatres in some crucial markets are also about to come on line. On Friday, New York City theatres will be allowed to open at 25% capacity for the first time since they closed last March. Next week, Disney launches the animated “Raya and the Last Dragon” in theatres and on Disney+ for $38 ($30 USD), not counting the subscription cost.

Though Warner Bros. was criticized by some for abandoning movie theatres when it announced plans to send all 2021 films to both HBO Max and cinemas, the studio is presently a lifeline to theatres. The studio’s films — including “The Little Things,” “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Wonder Woman 1984” — accounted for roughly 80% of domestic ticket sales over the weekend.

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Private rental bookings are helping the modest return of moviegoing. Family, friends and “pods” have booked an entire theater. Warner Bros. said “Tom & Jerry” has already seen more than 10,000 such bookings.

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