Pandemic Box Office: 'Tom And Jerry' Exceeds Expectations, Gives Movie Theaters Hope

There might be hope for the box office yet, and that hope comes in the form of...*checks notes*...Tom and Jerry. Even though trailers for the live-action/animation hybrid were the equivalent of having a root canal without having your gums numbed, and critics tore the film asunder, Tom and Jerry ended up with a $14.1 million domestic debut – which is far greater than anyone was expecting. Couple this with the fact that the movie was also streaming on HBO Max and you have every indication that audiences are ready to return to theaters.

The industry was really hoping that Christopher Nolan's Tenet would save movie theaters, but it looks like that distinction could go to a different Warner Bros. movie – Tom and Jerry. Deadline reports that the live-action/animation hybrid exceeded expectations, hauling in "$4M on Friday, and $6.1M on Saturday, +53% from Friday at 2,475 venues." The domestic weekend total is at $14.1 million, and Forbes adds that the global total is at $38.8 million. Forbes also adds that this is the best Friday through Sunday debut of a new movie in North America since the $38 million opening of Pixar's Onward in March 2020.

Tom and Jerry reportedly cost $79 million to make, so it didn't exactly break even here. But the fact that a film like this could perform better-than-expected, especially since it's also available to stream on HBO Max, is a sign that there's hope for movie theaters. As Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution Jeff Goldstein said: "This is evidence that people are willing to go back to the movies when there is something they want to see."

Of course, the question now is: will this trend continue? Warner Bros. has Godzilla vs. Kong destined to hit both theaters and HBO Max this month on March 26, while Universal will release the Bob Odenkirk action pic Nobody in theaters only on the same day. If those two films do well it will certainly indicate a good sign for theaters. Then again, the surprise Tom and Jerry success could be some sort of weird fuke.

Directed by Tim StoryTom and Jerry finds cartoon mouse Jerry moving "into New York City's finest hotel on the eve of the wedding of the century, forcing the desperate event planner to hire Tom to get rid of him. As mayhem ensues, the escalating cat-and-mouse battle soon threatens to destroy her career, the wedding, and possibly the hotel itself." Reviewing for /Film, Josh Spiegel wrote: "The story is dull, the characters are single-dimensionally bland, and the performances are stiff [...] We can all do better than this."