Disney’s ‘Raya And The Last Dragon’ Debuts At No. 1 With $8.6 Million In North America As New York City Theaters Finally Re-Open
If there’s one thing that the past year’s pandemic has taught the movie business, it’s that kid-friendly titles have become the new industry heavyweights. Hard on the heels of box-office perennial, The Croods: A New Age, and last weekend’s newly-crowned champ, Tom and Jerry, a new animated film once again claimed the top spot—Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon—which debuted at No. 1 in North American theaters this weekend with $8.6 million.

The debut was well-timed, as theaters in several major cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, re-opened their long-shuttered doors for business (albeit in limited capacity) for the first time in nearly a year. But even the addition of those new venues couldn’t single-handedly pull the domestic box office out of its doldrums, hinting at a recovery that could take months instead of weeks.

Still, let’s give credit where it’s due. Raya and the Last Dragon, a big-budget computer-animated adventure that was also available via the Disney Plus streaming platform for a $30 premium fee, bowed in 2,045 theaters over the weekend, which was good enough for a $4,205 per-screen average. The PG-rated film, which features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina, fared even better overseas, where it pulled in $17.6 million, putting its one-week worldwide total at $26.2 million. The biggest international territory was China, which accounted for $8.4 million of that total. Raya was also a hit with critics, who have given the movie a 95% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.

Dropping one spot in its second week was Warner Bros.’ Tom and Jerry. The PG-rated ‘toon starring the iconic, squabbling cat-and-mouse team (as well as human actors Chloe Grace Moretz, Michael Pena, and Colin Jost) landed in second place with $6.6 million. Tom and Jerry slid 53.2% from the previous frame and scored a $2,575 per-screen average in 2,563 theaters. Its two-week domestic total now stands at $23 million. Overseas, the film has added $34.3 million to date, bringing its cumulative worldwide haul to $57.3 million.

In third place was another new title, Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking, which racked up $3.8 million in its first weekend. The PG-13-rated dystopian sci-fi thriller starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley bowed in 1,980 theaters, which translated to a $1,931 per-screen average. Despite poor reviews, the film managed to tack on another $2.6 million overseas, bringing its total worldwide gross to $6.4 million.

In fourth place was the weekend’s only other debut to break the Top 10, Focus Features’Boogie, which bowed to $1.2 million in North America. The R-rated coming-of-age drama about a basketball phenom in Queens starring Taylor Takahashi opened in 1,252 locations with a $958 per-screen average. It has not yet opened internationally.

Rounding out the Top 5 was Universal and DreamWorks’ The Croods: A New Age, which continued to hang around and add another $780,000 in its fifteenth(!) week. The PG-rated perennial dipped -37.8% from the previous session and scored a $486 per-screen average in 1,604 theaters. Its North American total is now $53.6 million. So far, it has added slightly more than $104 million from international markets, putting its worldwide total at $157.7 million.

In other recent box-office news, several major studios looked to the hopeful signs on the COVID front and bullishly decided to push up the release dates for some of their bigger titles. Sony bumped its sequel Peter Rabbit 2: The Runawayfrom June to May 14, and Paramount shuffled the release of A Quiet Place Part II from September 17 to May 28. It will be interesting to see if other studios are as hopeful about a busier summer-season turnout and end up following their lead in the coming weeks.