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DreamWorks Animation THE CROODS Weekend Box Office: Trailing DRAGON, MONSTERS?

DreamWorks Animation The CroodsDreamWorks Animation The Croods box office: Solid, though hardly outstanding domestic debut

The Croods, DreamWorks Animation's first movie distributed under a new deal with 20th Century Fox (following six years, 2006-2012, at Paramount), will be the undisputable box office champ this weekend, March 22-24. Directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, The Croods will almost inevitably pass the $40m mark by Sunday evening, probably scoring up to $43 million after collecting $11.6 million at 4,046 locations on Friday according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. (Image: DreamWorks Animation's The Croods.) [Sunday addendum: According to studio weekend box office estimates, The Croods opened with $44.7m.]

The previous two weekends' top movie, Sam Raimi's Disney-distributed Oz the Great and Powerful, is expected to go down two spots (also falling behind newcomer Olympus Has Fallen), bringing in $20-22 million for the weekend. James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz star.

The Croods vs. DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon, Monsters vs. Aliens

For comparison's sake: on the same weekend in 2010, DreamWorks Animation's Paramount-distributed How to Train Your Dragon, featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, and Gerard Butler, debuted with $43.73 million at 4,055 sites. Budgeted at $165 million, How to Train Your Dragon went on to collect $217.58 million in North America and $277.27 million internationally, for a worldwide grand total of $494.87m.

The previous year, also in late March, DreamWorks Animation / Paramount's $175m-budgeted Monsters vs. Aliens, featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, and Seth Rogen, opened with $59.32 million (approx. $64 million today) at 4,104 sites. Monsters vs. Aliens cumed at $198.35 million in North America and $183.15 million internationally, for a worldwide grand total of $381.5m. (Note that a bigger debut doesn't necessarily translate into a bigger cume, whether at the domestic or the international box office.)

The Croods has a 6.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics vs. How to Train Your Dragon's 7.6/10 and Monsters vs. Aliens' 6.2/10.

DreamWorks Animation's The Croods vs. other animated March releases

Though likely to fall slightly behind How to Train Your Dragon and surely to trail Monsters vs. Aliens by a wide margin, The Croods should at least land ahead of Carlos Saldanha's 20th Century Fox-distributed Rio, featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, which opened with $39.22 million in mid-April 2011. [Addendum: If studio estimates are accurate, The Croods opened to slightly bigger numbers than How to Train Your Dragon, even adjusting for inflation.]

But then again, The Croods is bound to open below the figures earned by two other March animated releases, Fox's Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, featuring the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, and Universal's Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, featuring the voices of Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, and Taylor Swift. The former opened with $45.01 million in 2008 (approx. $50.5 million today); the latter debuted with $70.21 million last year.

The Croods voice cast

Reportedly made for $135 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses which could easily add up to another $70m), The Croods features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone (whose Gangster Squad was a big disappointment earlier this year), Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and 1971 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman (for Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show), who turns 87 next April 30.

This weekend, The Croods is also opening in about 45 international markets, among them Russia, Brazil, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. Don't be too surprised if the DreamWorks Animation film easily beats its domestic take at the international box office.

The Croods image: DreamWorks Animation / 20th Century Fox.

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