Box Office: ‘Clifford: The Big Red Dog’ Nabs Promising $2.3 Million Wednesday

Paramount’s PGRE Clifford: The Big Red Dog earned $2.3 million on its opening day, including Tuesday previews. The live-action (with a cgi dog) comedy, which was delayed from its September release due to concerns about rising Delta variant infections, debuted yesterday in theaters and on Paramount+. If it plays like a “normal” kid-friendly flick, including with today being Veteran’s Day, we’re probably looking at a solid $15 million Wed-Sun debut.

I’d argue that most folks who raced out to see Clifford on Wednesday would have done so on Friday in a conventional Fri-Sun frame. I’d also argue that most folks planning on seeing The Big Red Dog are merely waiting until the Fri-Sun frame. So opening over five days on par with the Fri-Sun openings of Tom & Jerry ($14 million toward a $46 million finish last February) and Paw Patrol ($13 million toward a $40 million domestic cume, with a sequel on the way, in August) would be pretty decent for the surprisingly good and demographically-winning kid flick.  

Both kid features were concurrently available on a streaming platform (the mouse and cat were on HBO Max and the puppy police were on Paramount+) and both ended their global runs with $130-$135 million (more than, offhand, Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, Soul and The Boss Baby: Family Business). I’m not sure to what extent film-friendly IP like Paw Patrol or Clifford: The Big Red Dog are the future of theatrical, but there’s clearly a path for films like this when the budget is kept in check. As for Clifford, there are several moments where Clifford absolutely could have eaten someone, slain his enemies or knocked down a building, but the kaiju potential goes unrealized.

Jokes aside, the PG-rated (I’m old enough to remember when movies like this skated by a with a G) girl-and-her-dog adventure is surprisingly charming and utterly painless. The adaptation of Norman Bridwell’s children’s book series works as intended, offering a level-headed sincerity that isn’t concerned with being cool, hip or topical in its humor. Darcy Camp stars alongside Jack Whitehall, John Cleese and Tony Hale, and the bright, vibrant, Walt Becker-directed film is certainly much better than (offhand) Yogi Bear, Alvin and the Chipmunks or Tom & Jerry.

The Tycoon Herald