‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Earns $2.3 Million at Thursday Box Office

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“Where the Crawdads Sing,” Sony’s adaptation of the hit novel by Delia Owens and produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, earned $2.3 million in its Thursday preview screenings that began at 3 p.m. The film played at 3,150 locations on Thursday and will open in approximately 3,625 locations this weekend.

“Crawdads” opens new this week against Paramount’s animated family film “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” which also had previews on Thursday starting at 3 p.m. It made $505,000 from 2,650 locations; it’s scheduled to open on approximately 3,400 screens this weekend. Both films are expected to fall behind “Thor: Love and Thunder” as it moves into its second weekend.

Sony is projecting a $9-10 million three-day opening weekend against a $24 million budget. And while “Crawdads” is aimed at a younger crowd, prominently featuring a new Taylor Swift song “Carolina” as a means of attracting those audiences, the film is also the first targeting a largely female crowd since “Downton Abbey: A New Era” earlier this year. That movie opened to $16 million after it brought in $1 million in its Thursday preview screenings.

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And though “Crawdads” earned a strong audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with a 94% rating, critics were less kind, saddling it with a 32% Rotten grade.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” is a crime and mystery story about Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh.

The film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones alongside Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer, Jr. and David Strathairn. Olivia Newman directed the film from the screenplay by Lucy Alibar and based upon the novel by Owens. The 3000 Pictures film is being produced by Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter. Executive producers are Rhonda Fehr and Betsy Danbury.

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“Paws of Fury” is not expected to open above $10 million at the box office this weekend either, but the film has been heavily marketed on Nickelodeon and comes at a low cost to the studio after it was acquired for just $10 million. For a comparison, Universal’s “The Bad Guys” earlier this year kicked off its Thursday showings with $1.1 million and opened to $25 million.

Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Kylie Kuioka, Cathy Shim and Samuel L. Jackson anchor the voice cast to “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” which takes inspiration from both “Kung Fu Panda” and the plot of “Blazing Saddles.”

A down-on-his-luck hound Hank (Michael Cera) finds himself in a town full of cats who need a hero to defend them from a ruthless villain’s (Ricky Gervais) evil plot to wipe their village off the map. With help from a reluctant teacher (Samuel L. Jackson) to train him, our underdog must assume the role of town samurai and team up with the villagers to save the day. The only problem? Cats hate dogs!

The film is directed by Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier and Chris Bailey. It has a 54% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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