Chloë Grace Moretz took to the skies this weekend in her new action-thriller “Shadow in the Cloud,” but the film experienced some turbulence at the box office on opening weekend.

The new movie, from director Roseanne Liang, opened in 75 domestic locations and grossed an estimated $40K. The $533 per-theater average ranked fifth on the domestic chart this week, falling below “The Croods A New Age ($1,245), “News of the Word” ($876), “Monster Hunter” ($691), and “Fatale” ($591). Warner Bros. Pictures did not release per-theater details on “Wonder Woman 1984,” but it would be surprising if the DC blockbuster did not top “The Croods A New Age” in its second week in theaters.

With a COVID-19 vaccine slowly rolling out across the world, theaters and studios have a light at the end of the tunnel, but “Shadow in the Cloud” proved that moviegoers aren’t ready to return to theaters in full force. The film has a decent shot of recouping its losses on the PVOD and digital markets, and it might have been better if the studio opted for a hybrid release to capitalize on the holiday weekend. “Shadow in the Cloud” currently has a 79% rating on Rottentomatoes, which is relatively high for a film in this genre, and the studio could have marketed the high review score while pushing the digital release. With would-be moviegoers social-distancing over the New Year’s weekend, “Shadow in the Cloud” would have had a shot at topping the digital charts with a strong marketing campaign. The audience score now sits at 38%, but that was based on only eight ratings when this article was written.

A digital release would have been better for at-home streamers, but theaters are starved for new releases and were probably thrilled to get “Shadow in the Cloud” on their marquees. Theaters are now competing with HBO Max for Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2021 slate, a move that is already impacting box office totals. “Wonder Woman 1984” dropped 67% in its second week in theaters, from $16.8M domestically on opening weekend to $5.5M this week. The sudden drop creates a bleak forecast for theaters looking forward to “Dune,” “Matrix 4,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” and “In the Heights” later this year. If the streaming trend continues, theaters are likely to get one powerhouse weekend out of each release before the film slowly drops of the charts.

The description for “Shadow in the Cloud” reads, “In the throes of World War II, Captain Maude Garrett joins the all-male crew of a B-17 bomber with a top-secret package. Caught off guard by the presence of a woman on a military flight, the crew tests Maude’s every move. Just as her quick wit is winning them over, strange happenings and holes in her backstory incite paranoia surrounding her true mission. But this crew has more to fear…lurking in the shadows, something sinister is tearing at the heart of the plane. Trapped between an oncoming air ambush and an evil lurking within, Maude must push beyond her limits to save the hapless crew and protect her mysterious cargo.”

Liang directed the film while working from a script that she wrote with Max Landis, and the movie also features Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, and Taylor John Smith.

Chloë Grace Moretz is also starring in the live-action hybrid “Tom and Jerry,” alongside Michael Pena, Rob Delaney, Colin Jost, and Ken Jeong. Warner Bros. Pictures recently bumped the film’s release date from March 5, 2021, to February 26, 2021, and will release the movie day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max as part of the studio’s new release program for 2021. Moretz is also returning to “The Addams Family” franchise to voice Wednesday Addams, another project slated to release in 2021.

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