Paramount will continue to experiment with a theatrical day-and-date release model during the pandemic with eOne’s Clifford the Big Red Dog, a live-action CGI hybrid take of the 1963 Scholastic children’s book classic which hit theaters today at 1:30PM, goes wide tomorrow at 3,695 theaters and also drops on Paramount+. The movie is expected to do between $15M-$17M over its five days, which includes Veterans Day when close to half K-12 schools are off for the holiday. The kids film, directed by Walt Becker, will be on a pure theatrical window up in Canada where it’s distributed by eOne.
Paramount decided to go day-and-date with Clifford the Big Red Dog in response to the rising Covid cases a few months ago, and kids under 12 not being able to get vaccinated at the time. It’s the second movie from the Melrose Ave. lot to go theatrical and on Paramount+ day-and-date after the August family animated film Paw Patrol: The Movie; a distribution move many predict there will be more of during the newly led Brian Robbins’ administration at the motion picture studio (that said, the explicit plans for the Paw Patrol sequel is an exclusive theatrical release on Oct. 13, 2023). Clifford has a 57% Rotten Tomatoes score, but exhibitors enjoyed it after Paramount sneaked it for them at the end of August at CinemaCon.
Disney’s Marvel movie Eternals will continue to reign at No. 1, down -60% to -65% in weekend 2 from its $71.3M opening with $25M-$28.5M. The Chloe Zhao directed movie made $4.26M on Monday taking its running total to $75.56M. Despite opening up under its $75M-$80M+ expectations, Eternals is expected to remain an anchor at the November box office among event films in addition to Disney Animation studio’s Encanto and Sony’s Ghostbusters Afterlife. After a record month during the pandemic with October’s $638M, let’s not get our hopes too high with November, as many expect it to be down. Still, the domestic box office looks to resuscitate itself again in late December with Sony/Marvel/Disney’s Spider-Man: No Way Home which many are already betting will be the domestic box office’s first $100M opening during the pandemic.
Focus Features begins the limited launch of its festival crowd pleaser Belfast directed by Kenneth Branagh at roughly 588 theaters on Friday. The black and white movie is based on the actor-filmmaker’s childhood during the late 1960s. Already the movie scored 11 British Independent Film Award nominations, the Oscar bellwether prize, TIFF’s People’s Choice Award; among several film festival awards. Last night, the pic had its Hollywood premiere at the Academy Museum. The hope here is at least $1M for the weekend, though black and white movies are always challenged at the box office. Of this year’s crop of awards contenders, Belfast is one of three Black and White movies, next to A24’s C’mon C’mon and Apple/A24’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, though the latter will largely be splashed on AppleTV+ after a very limited theatrical debut (when grosses aren’t reported).
The specialty box office has shown some signs of life as older adults have been slow to come out to cinemas during Covid with Searchlight’s The French Dispatch notching a $1.3M opening weekend from 52 screens with NYC’s Angelika earning a very robust $140K weekend. Back in September, Focus opened Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter to $1M at 580 theaters before finaling at $2.65M. Focus will go wide with Belfast over Thanksgiving, and the hope is to build word of mouth so that the families come out over the five-day holiday. Belfast is 86% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Take a look at Belfast star Jamie Dornan singing “Everlasting Love” at the premiere’s after party: