Raya and the Last Dragon Dominates the Weekend 

As Box Office Mojo rightfully points out, the true cinematic juggernauts of a COVID-19 era seem to be kid-friendly movies. The Croods: A New Age dominated the US cinemas for several months. A weekend before the last, it was Tom and Jerry. And last weekend, it was Disney’s latest CGI-animated adventure film – Raya and the Last Dragon. Set in fantasy lands inspired by South-east Asia, Raya tells a story about a chieftain’s daughter looking to save her lands from a curse that has afflicted them ever since dragons disappeared. Featuring voices by – among others – Awkwafina, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Kelly Marie Tran, and Benedict Wong, Raya and the Last Dragon came out in cinemas last weekend, and on Disney Plus with Premier Access. It grossed $8,5 million so far.

Tom and Jerry – a hybrid CGI-animated/live-action film – is in the second place with $6,6 million and a total current domestic gross of $23 million. In the third place is this week’s second newcomer – a dystopian science fiction film Chaos Walking. Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) and featuring Cynthia Erivo, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, and Daisey Ridley, Chaos Walking has had a troubled production. It was filmed back in 2017 and then went through reshoots and extensive editing in post-production. In its inaugural weekend in cinemas, Chaos Walking grossed $3,8 million. Sports drama Boogie is yet another newcomer. It debuted in fourth place with $1,2 million. And finally, The Croods: A New Age remains among the top five highest-grossing movies of the weekend, earning $788,000.

The CW Casts Its Powerpuff Girls

Back in August we first reported that The CW – purveyors of all your teenage angst superhero needs – was looking to produce a darker, edgier, live-action Powerpuff Girls TV series. Well, now comes news that the network just cast its leads. Chloe Bennet (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) will play orange-haired Blossom; Dove Cameron (The Descendants) will portray Bubbles, and Yana Perrault will play Buttercup, the most aggressive one of the three. The series will follow the trio as adults grappling with their fame but also the trauma of battling super villains as kids.

Ostensibly, the concept for a live-action Powerpuff Girls series sounds terrible. After all, Craig McCracken’s original cartoon is a beloved classic balancing razor-sharp humor and over-the-top action with the absurd cuteness of lead characters. But then again, people underwent a similar reaction in 2017 when The CW launched Riverdale – a grittier, noir-tinged version of Archie Comics. And yet, that show somehow was both sillier and better than expected. So, why not Powerpuff Girls, too? The talent behind the camera includes Heather V. Regnier, who previously worked on shows like Falling Skies, Sleepy Hollow, and Veronica Mars. It also includes Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body, Tully, Young Adult).

Cinemas Reopen in New York; California to Follow?

Spring is coming, nature is healing, and cinemas are slowly re-opening all across the land. Deadline reports movie theaters in Los Angeles might re-open next week. That is, of course, if COVID-19 numbers remain low enough. The current goal is to reach less than ten new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Counties that successfully reach this number could re-open their movie theaters at a 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. According to the LA Times, 10,6 million Californians have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far. That’s a bit over 18 percent of the total population of the state. With its 40 million people, California is one of the most important states for US cinemas.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, New York launched its experiment with re-opening of movie theaters about a week ago. So far, according to the state’s website, over 19 percent of the population received at least one dose of the vaccine – around 3,9 million people out of 19,3 million total. Just like in California, the state restricted the seating capacity. Many movie theaters didn’t sell popcorn or any other kind of concessions. Visitors had to observe social distancing and wear masks. All this, combined with a drought of new exciting titles on screen, made for a somewhat underwhelming experience. However, it also makes one cautiously optimistic that things might eventually get back to normal in the US cinemas.