While all eyes this weekend were on the phenomenal smash hit Cruella, a Disney film released earlier this year continued to make a huge impact on the box office totals. Walt Disney Animation’s Raya and the Last Dragon will add another $2.5 million to its box office total over the four day Memorial Day weekend. Putting the film’s total domestic box office at $54.5 million, ahead of both Warner Bros films Tom and Jerry and Wonder Woman 1984.
Released back on March 5th, 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon continues to bring in impressive numbers, finding itself in the top 5 for the Memorial Day weekend, three months after it premiered.
Back in March, some in the media foolishly counted out Raya after it premiered with an $8.5 million weekend. Compared to the aforementioned Tom and Jerry, a family film that opened mere weeks earlier with an over $14 million weekend, Raya appeared to be underperforming. But like most things in Hollywood, appearances can be deceiving, and Raya has since surpassed Tom and Jerry and shows no signs of slowing down.
Like Cruella, Raya was released in movie theaters at the same time it was made available on Disney+ premier access for $29.99, which clearly affected the film’s box office totals, but that was not the main culprit.
When Raya premiered back in March, the third largest U.S. exhibitor, Cinemark, refused to play the film in their theaters because of Disney’s decision to release the film in theaters and on Disney+ on the same day. Without Cinemark, the film opened in far fewer locations and it hurt the opening weekend box office totals. However, Disney eventually got their way and in early May Cinemark backed off and inked a new deal with Disney, that saw the exhibitor playing Disney films once again.
Raya and the Last Dragon was loved by critics, holding an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and beloved by fans, as indicated by the 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience polling firm Cinemascore revealing opening day audiences gave the film an ‘A’ score, out of the classic A-F grading scale. The combination of critical praise with audience adoration typically foretells a long run for a film, adding millions to the box office total months after premiering.
Disney does not release information regarding the number of households that purchase the one-time $29.99 premiere access for their movies, so it is impossible to know exactly how much money the company made from at-home viewing. But it is becoming clear that Raya and the Last Dragon is slowly becoming one of the biggest box office successes in the pandemic era.