One thing that never changes no matter what is going on in the world is that the week after Thanksgiving is always a letdown for theaters. Folks begin getting ready for the holidays, and if there is nothing new – as studios are prone to offer this weekend – why head out? This is true now more than ever, as a study has suggested that nearly half the populace has yet to return to the movies. Those who did manage to venture out didn’t shake things up too much, as all but two holdovers in the top 10 dropped more than half their attendance from the holiday.
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Disney’s Encanto did manage to hold on to the top spot for a second straight week with a 53% drop to $12.7 million. That’s a key number to look at, given that only four wide openers in November since 2010 have managed to hit $100 million after a second weekend under $14 million. They include Life of Pi, Murder on the Orient Express, Daddy’s Home 2, and Rise of the Guardians. Those last three never made it higher than $103.5 million, but Rise is worth keeping in mind. Opening over Thanksgiving in 2012, that film had a $13.3 million follow-up weekend, bringing its 12-day total to $48.8 million. Encanto is already up to $57.9 million and will likely stretch its way into Christmas vacation. For the time being, the film is just a day away from becoming the highest-grossing (fully) animated film during the pandemic surpassing 2020’s The Croods: A New Age ($58.5 million). We may not see higher animated numbers until maybe next Spring at the earliest – unless Sing 2 manages to break out. But Encanto making its way towards $100 million shows hope that some families are starting to feel safer.
(Photo by Fathom Events)
Christmas came early for fans of the television series, The Chosen. A special two-hour episode depicting the birth of Jesus Christ was put into theaters courtesy of Fathom Events on Wednesday and went longer than its usual one-day/one-show presentation. Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers was #1 at the box office on Wednesday and Thursday, grossing $4.67 million in two days of release. It then grossed another $3.5 million this weekend, bringing its total to $8.1 million. That is more than Ron’s Gone Wrong, King Richard, and The Last Duel made in their first five days of release.
(Photo by Focus Features)
Focus released the psychological drama Wolf, starring George MacKay and Lily-Rose Depp, into 308 theaters this weekend, and that was the widest new release not named Christmas with the Chosen. Normally a limited release like this would not be worth looking at in this section, but by making just $81,000 this weekend, it now ranks among the worst per-theater averages of the year for films opening in 250 theaters or more. IFC’s No Man’s Land debuted 10 months into the pandemic in January to $58,969 in 254 theaters for a $232 PTA. In March, Long Weekend grossed $245,812 in 814 theaters for a $302 PTA. Then in May, Focus’ Profile (which debuted at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival) made $730,290 in 2,033 theaters for a $359 PTA. Now, Wolf has secured the worst PTA ($263) since May for a film on this list.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife also took a hit this weekend, dropping 58% down to $10.4 million. That was still good enough for second place and pushed its total to $102.2 million. Last week, we had Jason Reitman’s film on a path to $140 million or higher. That path is still not out of play, given that only two November releases have reached $100 million in their first 17 days and failed to reach $140 million – Ridley Scott’s American Gangster ($130.1 million) and The Matrix Revolutions ($139.3 million). Those films had third weekends of $12.8 million and $7 million, respectively; Revolutions had $120.3 million after 17 days and took a major dive. Ghostbusters will likely stay in the top five for the next two weeks, and its drops may level off as it heads into the next holiday, but its final estimates currently fall between $130-140 million, making it still one of the highest-grossing films of 2021.
Speaking of Ridley Scott, one of the best holds of the week was House of Gucci, and by “best” we mean a 48% drop to $6.8 million, bringing its total to $33.6 million. That puts it in the vicinity of November releases Old Dogs and Clifford the Big Red Dog (which had the biggest drop in the Top 10 at 65%.) That puts Gucci somewhere between $45-50 million total (or close to five times The Last Duel.) The best hold of the week was Warner Bros./HBO Max’s Dune, which fell only 13% due in large part to a re-release into more expensive IMAX theaters. Its total now stands at over $104.6 million, while King Richard struggles to reach $15 million.
(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)
Meanwhile, Eternals is settling into a Marvel Universe where it grosses about $160 million, missing the $175 million mark of every other MCU film besides The Incredible Hulk… the second film in the entire franchise. It should just squeak by both No Time To Die and A Quiet Place Part II to become the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year. That is, until Spider-Man: No Way Home pushes it back a notch.
Paul Verhoven’s Benedetta unfortunately did not make much of a splash on the arthouse circuit. Even with the seemingly same eight people showing up to protest it at venues across the country, the film grossed just $145,000 in 202 theaters for a $717 PTA. Not Wolf numbers, but not great either. The other Paul – Thomas Anderson, that is – is still showing robust numbers with Licorice Pizza, which grossed another $215,000 in a handful of theaters (three in NY, one in LA, and special single showings at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago.) That brings its 10-day total $753,000 with a PTA this weekend of $53,900, the second highest per-theater average after the first weekend of Pizza’s release.
(Photo by 20th Century Studios)
Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. ‘Nuff said? The film, which may have become the Oscar frontrunner this past week, saw its first screenings result in an early 95% Tomatometer score with critics. This is really the year’s last big shot at bringing older generations to the theaters, but whether or not they will come is still in question. It will undoubtedly be number one next weekend, and that alone will be refreshing, given that it’s a film not aimed at comic book, sci-fi, or horror fans, let alone families or those still following The Fast Saga.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]