Paramount’s family-friendly adventure “Clifford the Big Red Dog” pulled in a solid $2.3 million on its first day in theaters.
The film, which is playing simultaneously in 3,407 North American cinemas and on the streaming service Paramount Plus, opened on Wednesday to take advantage of the Veterans Day holiday weekend. It’s projected to generate $15 million to $17 million through Sunday, which wouldn’t be a particularly standout start for a property as recognizable as “Clifford.” It’s understandable, though, because children under the age of 12 have only recently been able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, so family crowds have been slow to return to cinemas. Ticket sales for “Clifford” should be on pace with Paramount’s August release of “PAW Patrol,” which opened to $13 million over the traditional weekend while landing concurrently on Paramount Plus.
“Clifford” came in second place on daily charts behind Marvel’s “Eternals,” which brought in $4.3 million on Wednesday. The superhero epic — directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie — is expected to decline roughly 60% from its $71 million debut. Should estimates hold, “Eternals” would add another $26 million to $28 million in its second weekend of release. So far, the MCU entry has generated $85 million domestically in its first six days. Unlike “Clifford” and its hybrid release,” “Eternals” is available only on the big screen.
Based on the popular children’s book series, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” follows 12-year-old Emily Elizabeth, who is gifted a little red puppy. Much to her surprise, she wakes up to find the petite canine has grown overnight into a giant, 10-foot hound. It’s especially problematic because she lives in New York City, which isn’t known for spacious living quarters. Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale and Kenan Thompson star in the film.
Critics have been split on “Clifford” (it has a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences have been loving the adventures of the lovable, oversized scarlet pooch, giving the film an “A” CinemaScore. In Variety’s review, chief critic Owen Gleiberman called the movie a “winsome formula fable.”
“‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ becomes a rowdy chase film — as agreeable as Clifford himself, as simultaneously cute and in-your-face, and as genially random in its ability to create chaos,” he wrote.
On Friday, Focus Features is opening “Belfast,” a black-and-white autobiographical drama by Kenneth Branagh, and Sony Pictures Classics is debuting “Julia,” a documentary from “RBG” filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West about the influential chef Julia Child.