Exactly 51 weeks ago, the U.S. box office had its worst weekend in 20 years, with Pixar’s then-new Onward barely making over $10 million and Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot (remember that one?) making just over $9 million. This was an important weekend for the country, as it was right around the point when the general public realized that the coronavirus was a real threat (something the federal government didn’t get around to until, oh, halfway through January 2021 for some reason), and whether the people going to see Onward knew this ahead of time or not, lockdowns for businesses like movie theaters were about to become part of the larger plan to slow the spread of COVID-19. But here we are, almost exactly a year later, and everything is better! Ha ha, no. Not really.
There is something positive happening here, though: This past weekend was the best showing the U.S. box office has had since that day last March, with the top 10 films grossing just over $20 million. Now, that’s still well below even where things were 51 weeks ago, but it’s surely good news for the theater owners who spent the last few months trying to convince people to spend good money sending DoorDash drivers to pick up buckets of popcorn. At least some of the explanation for this uptick has to go to the city of New York, which reopened theaters on Friday at 25 percent capacity, giving residents of The Big Apple a chance to finally see this Tenet movie that everyone in the states between the coasts have been talking about. (It’s okay.)
New York doesn’t get all the credit, though: Three new movies opened this past week, and it was the only the second weekend for Warner Bros.’ Tom And Jerry, which continues to make good money despite being available on HBO Max (you don’t have to risk catching or spreading the virus to see it!). The big winner, naturally, was Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon, which made $8.6 million, followed by the cat-and-mouse movie at $6.6 million (for a solid total of $23 million). Then we have Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland’s Chaos Walking at $3.8 million and basketball movie Boogie at $1.2 million.
Nothing else made over $1 million, including consistent over-performer The Croods: A New Age, which fell to fifth place and added a meager $780,000 to its $53 million total. The Little Things and Wonder Woman 1984 also continued to fall, despite both no longer being on HBO Max, which seems to illustrate a potential wrinkle to this idea that the box office is on the upswing: If things were really getting improving, wouldn’t everything be doing slightly better at the box office? As it stands now, nothing is doing better than it did last week, it’s just that three movies came out instead of zero. It’s probably too early to say what any of this means, but at least things are going okay currently. Theater owners deserve that minor win, at least.