Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Overseas, “The Little Things” collected $1.4 million in ticket sales from 20 countries. The R-rated film has made $7.8 million in the U.S. and Canada and $5.2 million internationally to date.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, “The Little Things” debuted simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming service. With the U.S. box office essentially at a standstill, Warner Bros. made the decision (one that was met with vocal backlash) to repeat that hybrid model for its entire 2021 movie slate.
Yet Warner Bros.’ rivals, including Disney and Universal, are keenly aware of one unfortunate reality: it’s too risky to unveil buzzy movies given the impaired marketplace. Around 60% of U.S. cinemas remain closed, according to Comscore, and venues that reopened have been operating at reduced capacity. And it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. The biggest movies set for 2021 — such as “F9,” “Black Widow” and “No Time to Die” — aren’t expected to open until summer at best.
Studios have only been willing to release new movies if there’s a contingency plan in place that limits potential losses. That’s why Universal worked out a deal with major movie theater chains to put its titles on demand after 17 days in theaters. And Disney, which put “Mulan” and “Soul” directly on Disney Plus, is testing out a new strategy next month with “Raya and the Last Dragon.” On March 5, the animated family film will launch on the big screen and on the company’s streaming service for a $30 rental fee. In the event that people don’t show up to see “Raya” in theaters, Disney is banking on a boost in Disney Plus subscribers.
Pandemic or not, Super Bowl weekend is never a particularly popular time of year to go to the movies.
“This year’s Super Bowl box office weekend is predictably and naturally the lowest grossing in modern history,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “But a year from now, I believe we can count on a much more robust moviegoing weekend.”
Without any new nationwide releases this weekend, Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” landed in second place and generated $1.7 million. After 11 weeks in theaters, the “Croods” sequel has brought in $46 million domestically. Though there aren’t many big-screen offerings for audiences to choose from these days, its box office hold has been notable because “The Croods: A New Age” has been available to rent on premium video-on-demand platforms for two months. Overseas, the film brought in $808,000, which brings its international total to $101.6 million and global haul to $147.6 million.
Liam Neeson thriller “The Marksman” landed in the No. 3 spot, grossing $1 million from 2,018 screens. That brings its total haul to $9.1 million. “Wonder Woman 1984” came in fourth place with $905,000 from 1,818 U.S. locations. The Warner Bros. superhero adventure, which also premiered concurrently on HBO Max, has amassed $40 million at the domestic box office and $154 million worldwide.
Sony’s “Monster Hunter” rounded out the top five with $585,000 in its eighth weekend of release. The video game adaptation, starring Milla Jovovich, has made $11.8 million to date.
Among specialty titles, “Earwig and the Witch” — a new Studio Ghibli film starring Richard E. Grant, Kacey Musgraves and Dan Stevens — opened in 430 locations. Since Wednesday, the movie has made $132,768.
Overseas, Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” — which isn’t playing in domestic theaters and is only available to U.S. audiences on Disney Plus — continues to sell tickets. The film is performing particularly well in China, where it has made $55.8 million and has officially passed “Incredibles 2” ($53.7 million) to become the country’s second-highest Pixar release ever. In total, “Soul” earned $6.9 million from 11 international countries, boosting its foreign bounty to $96.2 million.
Variety's Rebecca Rubin contributed to this post.