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‘PAW Patrol’ Proves — Again — That Family Films Matter at the Box Office

The return of movies will be...thanks to families.

PAW Patrol to the rescue? Sort of. The movie industry is still struggling to get audiences back into theaters, particularly with the delta variant creating a new wave of concern. But the right movie, aimed at the right audience and released at just the right time can result in a box office surprise. Case in point… PAW Patrol: The Movie. The animated family movie, based on the popular kids’ TV show of the same name, was the highest-grossing movie this past weekend, beating out the Reminiscence, a sci-fi romance starring the usually bankable Hugh Jackman. PAW Patrol grossed $12 million versus the wildly disappointing $2 million delivered by Reminiscence.

Now, the numbers could have been a bit higher for both films, but people understandably stayed home in the Northeast as Hurricane/tropical storm Henri swooped through the region, dumping endless amounts of rain and causing deadly flooding. And speaking of staying home, let’s not forget that PAW Patrol opened day and date in theaters and on Paramount Plus, while Reminiscence debuted day and date in theaters and HBO Max. Interestingly, PAW Patrol ranked number two at the box office behind another family-friendly title, Free Guy, a live-action comedy-adventure-fantasy starring Ryan Reynolds, which opened at #1 last weekend and retained the top slot with an $18.8 million dollar gross and a surprisingly low drop-off of 34 percent. It’s playing only in theaters. Oh, and at #3? Yet another family film, Jungle Cruise, the Dwayne Johnson-Emily Blunt adventure that’s closing in on the $100 million marks as a theater-only release.

PAW Patrol: The Movie follows Ryder and everyone’s favorite pups as they contend with their biggest rival, Humdinger, who becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc. While one pup must face his past in Adventure City, the team finds help from a new ally, the savvy dachshund Liberty. Together, armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the PAW Patrol fights to save the citizens of Adventure City! Joining the PAW Patrol show’s regular voice cast for the movie are Kim Kardashian West, Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Yara Shahidi, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel, and newcomer Will Brisbin.

“This is a good opening for a TV-based family animation release,” David A. Gross, who runs consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, told the trade paper, Variety. “These movies are not in the league with the Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Illumination juggernauts, but they cost less, make money, and occasionally break out à la Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Scooby-Doo.”

Paw Patrol is clearly bigger than those titles, but what the big-wide world forgets is simple: In during a pandemic, families need an escape.