Remember the days when Disney would open a new film over Thanksgiving week and it would lead the way for family viewing over the holiday? Well that still basically happened this week, only it wasn’t a new opening from the Mouse House that got people out of their own. That appeared to be a given even with tradition being the way it is. But this is not the time of Moana, Coco, or even Enchanted. Animated sci-fi has had its issues drawing in big crowds over the years and 2022 has proven not to be so different. Disney may have the No. 1 film in the country for a third straight week and may continue to do so well through January, but between Lightyear and this weekend, it must feel like a Strange World after all in some respect.
Before looking at the bad news let us acknowledge that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not only No. 1 for the third straight week, but probably will be for the next two as well. Another $45.9 million over the weekend and $64 million for the five-day holiday brings its total to $367.6 million. That is the 18th best total ever for a film after 17 days. While it is looking forward to add to its total, take a moment to look back at what we said last week about its long-term prospects. The lowest 17-day gross to reach $500 million that did not have the name of James Cameron behind it was Disney’s 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast with $393.3 million. Wakanda is already nearly $26 million behind that even if it managed to surpass Beauty’s $45.4 million second weekend. Numbers are likely to drop off pretty sharply next weekend and Wakanda would need to get to almost $431 million to keep up with Beauty. As predicted though, Wakanda is looking a lot more like Avengers: Age of Ultron, which had $372 million after 17 days and a $38.8 million third weekend. Ultron finished with $459 million and Wakanda may end up about $5 million on either side of that.
After years of throwing some of their high-profile titles a brief theatrical run in just a few theaters across the country, we finally have some numbers for a Netflix release. They are experimenting with Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery by giving it an exclusive one-week run in 696 theaters and according to reports it grossed $9.4 million over the weekend and $13.2 million since opening on Wednesday. This is actually a bigger deal than it looks and we hope Netflix is paying attention to what will be said next. That amounts to a $13,505 per-theater-average. Surely there have been higher numbers than that reported when it comes to big summer blockbusters and minimally released titles. But do you know how rare it is for a PTA to hit five digits when a film is initially released between 500-2,000 theaters?
Since Robert Zemeckis’ Contact in 1997, there have only been 20 films that have achieved that. Only four of those scored a higher PTA than Glass Onion and only two were narrative features – Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which opened to $21.9 million in 1,483 theaters for a $14,771 average, and the Christian songwriting film, I Can Only Imagine, which started with $23 million in 1,629 theaters for a $14,147 average. The other two were Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 ($23.9 million – 868 theaters – $27,558) and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million – 683 theaters – $45,561). Here is the full list:
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million – 683 theaters – $45,561)
Fahrenheit 9/11 ($23.9 million – 868 theaters – $27,558)
Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman ($21.9 million – 1483 theaters – $14,771)
I Can Only Imagine ($23 million – 1629 theaters – $14,147)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery ($9.4 million – 696 theaters – $13,505)
Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train ($21.2 million – 1600 theaters – $13,272)
Flight ($24.9 million – 1884 theaters ($13,217)
Next Friday ($14.4 million – 1103 theaters – $13,114)
The Original Kings of Comedy ($11 million – 47 theaters – $13,051)
Barbershop ($20.6 million – 1605 theaters – $12,852)
Notorious (2009) ($20.4 million – 1638 theaters – $12,514)
The Exorcist: Director’s Cut (2000) ($8.1 million – 664 theaters – $12,313)
Road to Perdition ($22 million – 1797 theaters – $12,287)
Love Actually ($6.8 million – 576 theaters – $11,955)
God’s Not Dead ($9.2 million – 780 theaters – $11,817)
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain ($10 million – 892 theaters – $11,245)
Remember the Titans ($20.9 million – 1865 theaters – $11,210)
How To Be a Latin Lover ($12.2 million – 1118 theaters – $10,959)
BlacKkKlansman ($16 million – 1512 theaters – $10,602)
Seabiscuit ($20.8 million – 1989 theaters – $10,485)
War Room ($11.3 million – 1135 theaters – $10,001)
That is really quite an achievement and a testament to how much audiences wanted to see the Knives Out sequel. They did not want to wait a month for it to premiere on Netflix. They were willing to spend their money to experience it as soon as they could. The marketplace is practically non-existent for weeks. Glass Onion could play and play at the top of the charts for weeks and the company should be making plans to extend the film’s run immediately.
Disney animation is not having a great year. They threw away Pixar’s Turning Red to Disney+. Lightyear is one of the biggest losers of the year and now Strange World just had one of the worst Thanksgiving releases for a Disney release of any kind. The animated sci-fi comedy grossed just $11.9 million over the weekend. That is less than Treasure Planet opened to in 2002 ($12 million). Words almost fail to comprehend so just look at the list of Disney releases over the holiday:
Frozen II ($130.2 million)
Frozen ($67.3 million)
Moana ($56.6 million)
Ralph Breaks the Internet ($56.2 million)
Coco ($50.8 million)
Tangled ($48.7 million)
The Good Dinosaur ($39.1 million)
Enchanted ($34.4 million)
A Bug’s Life ($33.5 million)
101 Dalmatians (1996) ($33.5 million)
Unbreakable ($30.3 million)
The Muppets ($29.2 million)
Toy Story ($29.1 million)
Encanto ($27.2 million)
Flubber ($26.7 million)
Bolt ($26.2 million)
The Haunted Mansion ($24.2 million)
The Princess and the Frog ($24.2 million)
Deja Vu ($20.5 million)
Enemy of the State ($20.0 million)
102 Dalmatians ($19.8 million)
Old Dogs ($16.8 million)
Three Men and a Little Lady ($13.7 million)
Treasure Planet ($12.0 million)
Strange World ($11.9 million)
Three Men and a Baby ($10.3 million)
A Low Down Dirty Shame ($7.97 million)
Delivery Man ($7.94 million)
Out Cold ($4.5 million)
Song of the South (1986 reissue) ($4.2 million)
One Magic Christmas ($2.6 million)
Strange World grossed less than two Tony Scott films and the Three Men and a Baby sequel. An $18.6 million take over the five-day holiday is not even close to cutting it for a film reported to cost as much as $180 million. This is a disaster anyway you spin it, though Disney can certainly try if this season turns out to be nothing but a couple blockbusters, a single successful family film (Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which is getting solid responses so far) and maybe a Whitney Houston sleeper. If any one of I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Babylon, and A Man Called Otto don’t catch on with adult audiences, Strange World could still end up being a top five film of the winter season; albeit one of the biggest losers of 2022.
Another new film that did not perform well comparative to its budget, J.D. Dillard’s Devotion grossed just under $6 million for the weekend and $9 million for the five-day holiday. No one was expecting Top Gun: Maverick numbers for the film, which had a 79% Tomatometer score at press time, but with a reported budget of $90 million, Sony can’t be happy. The highest grossing November release to open between $5 million–$7 million was the Russell Crowe thriller The Next Three Days, which ultimately grossed $21.1 million. Then there is Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All, which went from four theaters last weekend into 2,727 this week and the results were wholly unimpressive; $2.2 million (or She Said numbers) for the cannibal love story resulted in just an $808 per-theater-average. Compare that to the Glass Onion numbers, which were in about a quarter of Bones’ theaters. She Said, meanwhile, dropped completely out of the top 10 with just $1.5 million over the five days bringing its total to just $4.3 million.
Universal tried to continue the slow roll-out for Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, moving it from four theaters into 638 in week three and so far it appears to be the wrong strategy. The film will surpass the studio’s She Said later this week in what feels like a wild miscalculation in awards scheduling. It’s a shame that the studio is now looking at numbers that are just not particular promising for their big awards film. The closest comparison to their rollout strategy can be found back in 1991 with the April release of Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life, ironically another look back at one’s life story. That film opened in three theaters with $92,622, followed the second week with $91,809 and then expanded into 689 theaters and made $3.28 million in its third weekend. The Fabelmans grossed $2.2 million over the weekend, $3.1 million for the five-day and is up to only $3.4 million. Unless the film continues to find an audience through the season it could end up being the lowest-grossing film of Spielberg’s career going back to The Sugarland Express’ $12 million.
The bombs and disappointments continue with Black Adam, which is still in the top 10 with another $3.3 million over the weekend. It’s total stands at nearly $163 million domestic and $378 million worldwide. It is looking very much like a $100-plus million loser for Warner Bros. Universal’s Ticket To Paradise has brought its total over $65 million, but is still about $18 million shy to cover its exorbitant romcom budget. Searchlight’s The Menu remained in the top five with $5.2 million, bringing its total to $18.6 million. It’s global total stands at over $33 million, but is going to need over $50 million to cover its $30 million budget. But, hey, at least people are going to see television on the big screen, as the first two episodes of The Chosen season 3 grossed another $1.6 million and has seen its total rise to $13.4 million, more than the current combined grosses of The Fabelmans, She Said, and Bones and All.
This week Santa Claus comes to kick ass with David Harbour donning the costume to battle terrorists in Violent Night from Tommy Wirkola, the director of the Dead Snow films. Universal is hoping for a better number than they have been getting lately and they will probably get it with a second place finish. Their release of Nobody with Bob Odenkirk kicking ass in theaters just as vaccinations were starting to gain traction in March 2021 ended up grossing $27 million domestically. Anything less than that may feel like a disappointment, even if Jean Claude Van Damme’s Sudden Death grossed only $20.3 million during the Christmas season of 1995.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Marvel Studios