By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, Feb 21 (Variety.com) - Need a reminder of justhow imperiled moviegoing, at least in the U.S., remains due tothe pandemic? Look no further than domestic box office charts."The Croods: A New Age," which debuted theatrically in November,was the No. 1 movie in North America.
The Universal Pictures animated sequel nabbed $1.7 millionfrom 1,913 venues over the weekend, enough to bypass recentreleases like Denzel Washington's "The Little Things" and "Judasand the Black Messiah" for the second weekend straight. After 13weeks in theaters, "The Croods" sequel has earned $50 millionand could eventually pass "Tenet" ($58 million) as thehighest-grossing movie in the coronavirus era.
The domestic box office landscape is starkly different fromChina, where ticket sales this year have soared to recordlevels. Already, the country has fielded several bona fideblockbusters in 2021, such as "Detective Chinatown 3," "Hi, Mom"and "A Writer's Odyssey." In total, those titles and othersgenerated a record $1.2 billion in ticket sales over China'sLunar New Year holiday. It may be hard to believe the depletedU.S. box office could similarly return to pre-pandemic levelsany time soon, though analysts and studio executives look toChina with optimism.
"The results out of China are certainly encouraging," saysPaul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. "demonstrates that an effective pandemic response, combined witha steady stream of local product, can do wonders for the bottomline."
It may, however, take some time to see U.S. box officelevels return to normal levels, Dergarabedian predicts.
"As the vaccine rollout continues in the U.S. and casesdecline, this portends a very robust future for the domestic boxoffice," he says.
Elsewhere in North America, "The Little Things" made $1.2million from 2,061 locations, enough for second place. Themovie, which also stars Rami Malek and Jared Leto, has amassed$11 million in four weeks. "Judas and the Black Messiah" came inthird, generating $905,000 for a total of $3.3 million. Thosefilms, both from Warner Bros., are available to watch on the HBOMax streaming service.
Another Warner Bros. title, "Wonder Woman 1984," capturedthe No. 4 spot with $805,000. The superhero sequel, led by GalGadot, has generated $42 million in the U.S.
Open Road's "The Marksman," a thriller starring Liam Neeson,rounded out the top five with $775,000. That brings its domestictally to $11.4 million.