March 7, 2021
Disney’s new theatrical/Premier Access release, Raya and the Last Dragon, topped the weekend domestic box office with a projected $8.6 million in ticket sales through March 7. That’s slightly more than the film generated in China at $8.4 million. The movie is tracking toward more than $26 million worldwide. The domestic box office topped $23.1 million — the largest tally since Christmas.
With some New York City movie theaters re-opening, the tally underwhelmed when compared to the previous-weekend’s $14.1 debut of Warner Bros. Pictures live-action/animation hybrid Tom & Jerry, which also bowed simultaneously on HBO Max. The movie took in $6.6 million in the No. 2 spot; $23 million since launching.
Lionsgate’s fantasy Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, rounded out the podium with a reported $3.8 million — a far cry from the movie’s reported $100 million production budget.
Raya also underperformed compared with the opening of Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age with $9.7 million last Thanksgiving, and Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 with $16.7 million over Christmas weekend. Raya was hamstrung as Cinemark, the No. 3 exhibitor in the country, refused to screen the movie without a renegotiated distribution deal with Disney.
Indeed, Raya was concurrently available to Disney+ subscribers for $29.99, the same price of Disney’s first Premier Access release, Mulan, over the Labor Day weekend. Disney has not reported financial details of that direct-to-consumer retail release. Notably, Disney keeps 100% of all Premier Access revenue while splitting theatrical revenue with exhibitors.
On a March 1 virtual investor event, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the studio still believes in the theatrical business model but added the the consumer dynamic is changing.
“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before because now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting [movies] at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said. “I’m not sure there’s a going back, but we certainly don’t want to cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”