Weekend Box Office Forecast: Tom & Jerry Continues the Warner Bros. Experiment, Offers 2021’s First Family Movie In Domestic Cinemas


February’s final frame is in sight, and with it arrives 2021’s first high-profile family movie.

The fourth film under Warner Bros.’ hybrid release experiment, Tom & Jerry will offer fresh content to theaters in need of it, and families with kids who are only increasingly eager to get out of the house. The latter is an audience that has already shown their willingness, where safe and able, to turn out for films like The War with Grandpa and The Croods: A New Age in recent months.

The latter returned to the top of the box office two weeks ago — its 12th of release — and remained there last weekend. The former just finished its 20th weekend of play, having opened in early October, and has charted among the top ten every single weekend since.

Where Tom & Jerry differs is its immediate availability to stream for free on HBO Max with an existing subscription. Even the Croods sequel, which went to PVOD in mid-December, had yet to be available in the home at such a bargain for consumers until its Blu-ray and digital release this past Tuesday.

With those increasingly usual caveats in mind, the pic will debut in north of 2,000 domestic theaters this weekend. It currently boasts a strong 27 percent share of all showtimes across the universe of booked films. That’s just shy of the 31 percent mark reached by both the Croods sequel and Wonder Woman 1984 during their respective openings.

With an estimated 45 percent of domestic theaters open currently, the live-action-animation blend starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña won’t have a typical theatrical run. Still, even Warner’s own day-and-date releases have seen varying results that indicate average-to-above-average legs are possible.

Example: Wonder Woman 1984 bowed to $16.7 million over Christmas weekend and has earned 2.55 times that amount so far — a typical multiplier for any tentpole superhero sequel prior to the pandemic. The Little Things, meanwhile, exceeded pandemic-era expectations with a $4.7 million opening frame in late January — the highest R-rated opening of the pandemic up to this point — and is beginning to display some staying power after an initial Super Bowl-driven decline in its second frame. The thriller has earned $11.8 million as of last Sunday.

Tom & Jerry is far more likely to debut in line with the latter of those comparisons, despite having little else in common with it. While the Croods sequel’s $9.7 million three-day weekend might seem like a fair benchmark, that DreamWorks brand is far more well-known to modern day kiddies compared to the legacy branding of an 80-year-old franchise that hasn’t had a significant mainstream presence in decades.

In short, while Tom & Jerry represents another small step toward expanding the volume of mainstream-friendly content playing in theaters, it will likely still be a modest earner compared to the potential of other films in the coming months. We’re expecting an opening weekend in the range of $4.5 million on the low end, potentially going as high as $7 million.

Aside from the new release’s streaming availability, audiences continue to wait for a higher degree of vaccination implementation, bigger product, and major market re-openings — beginning with New York City on March 5.

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