Not counting the pandemic year of 2020, a six-year streak was just broken at the Thanksgiving box office. Contrary to popular belief (or whatever Mandela Effect may exist out there), Disney was not always the automatic winner of this holiday. Oh sure, from 1994 to 1999 there was a pure Disney winning streak, and the Mouse House revitalized it from 2016 to 2022 (Moana to the Black Panther sequel). But from 2000 to 2015, only four of the 16 weekends belonged to Disney, culminating in a stretch of seven straight wins for Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. This year brought a victory back for one of those, though Taylor Swift’s odds to hold on to the title of the final two box office seasons of the year continues to increase with over $178 million as the 10th highest-grossing film of the year.
In what is registering as quite the surprise, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes once again had the odds in its favor as it captured $28.8 million over the weekend and $42.2 million since Wednesday. That brings its 10-day total to $98.4 million — not bad, considering it raises its global total to over $197 million and is on the path to profit for Lionsgate. That actually has it very closely aligned with the numbers for Moana, though its dropoff factor is likely to be a bit more expedited. Only nine films have ever grossed less than $100 million in their first 10 days in November and gone on to pass $200 million, and only two of those were non-animated (Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire). Songbirds & Snakes could be looking at more in the $150-160 million range, which is nowhere in the vicinity of the original films of the franchise but may keep hopes alive for another entry.
One film that will certainly not be in profit and, in fact, looks as if it will become the bomb of 2023 is Marvel’s The Marvels. Until this weekend, the only film in the MCU to gross below $10 million in its third weekend was The Incredible Hulk when it made $9.5 million back in 2008. The Marvels set a new low with just $6.4 million this weekend (and $9.2 million since Wednesday) to bring its total to $76 million. That is nearly $40 million below where NortonHulk was after 17 days, putting it on pace to finish between $85-90 million. Worldwide it has grossed just $187 million, and at this rate, nothing can stop it from becoming one of the biggest money losers of all time. Unfortunately, it didn’t get any better for Disney elsewhere this weekend, either.
Apart from the collapse of Strange World in 2022, Disney’s stretch from 2016 on was consistent from their animated holiday releases. Three originals, two sequels, and just one Pixar film led the way. Their new film, Wish, is their first animated film to end up on the wrong side of the Tomatometer (Rotten at 50%) since Strange Magic (18%) back in January 2015. 100 Years of Disney may have shown audiences to expect better — either that, or a good chunk of their audience was still captivated by the new Trolls movie, which wasn’t even a week old. Wish ended up with $31.7 million over the five-day period, which is lower than what Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur opened to in 2015 ($39.1 million), and that film was labeled a major disappointment with its $175 million budget. Wish carries a budget in that neighborhood and potentially higher.
The Good Dinosaur had over $55 million in its first five days and finished with $123 million. Wish is only up to $49 million across the entire globe. Disney already has three high-profile budget losers of over $150 million on the books for 2023 in The Marvels, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Haunted Mansion. Their only full-blown success on the year is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as both Elemental and The Little Mermaid came up shy of their goals as well. This is very likely not how they envisioned celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Coming in ahead of Wish for the full holiday is Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. Saddled with its own nine-digit budget (reportedly between $130-200 million), the 158-minute edited-for-theatrical-release epic grossed $20.4 million over the weekend and $32.5 million since Wednesday. That exceeded expectations, but maybe not near enough to mount a successful theatrical campaign with just another $46.3 million internationally thus far. This is just par for the course for Ridley Scott, who appears to be one of the few filmmakers to have carte blanche to spend whatever he needs to achieve his vision.
Scott has only made two movies since 1997 with a budget under $50 million (The Counselor and A Good Year). He has certainly had successes like The Martian, Gladiator, Hannibal, and Prometheus (even Black Rain was a hit), but has mostly come out in the red, with some of his most expensive flops being The Last Duel (partially plagued by the pandemic), Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Exodus: Gods and Kings, just to name a few. Expectations exceeded or not, a big drop next week is going to determine where on that list Napoleon lands. Then again, like Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon (which is now at $65 million), Apple’s open wallet in search of subscribers is its own conversation, and they may pull in even more with those curious to experience Scott’s inevitable four-hour-plus cut of the film.
In fourth place is Trolls Band Together, which made $17.5 million over the weekend and $25.3 million more since Wednesday. It’s 10-day total stands at $64.4 million, which is actually very close to those Good Dinosaur numbers after Pixar’s film rose to $63.8 million in 10 days following a $15.32 million second weekend. Doubling its total now to over Dinosaur’s $123 million would certainly be a win for Universal and the franchise. Its global total is up to $145 million, and anything around $250 million globally should put the film in profit. Their Five Nights at Freddy’s also made $2.5 million over the holiday week, and with a total of over $136 million domestic and $283 million worldwide, it is now Blumhouse’s highest-grossing film ever.
Actually into profit already and bucking the trend of holidays not being the time to release horror pictures is Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, which earned $11.1 million since Wednesday; $7.1 million of that accumulated over the weekend a decent drop from last weekend whenit ultimately beat The Marvels for third place. Everything going forward is gravy for this release. As the Scream series appears to be on self-destruct mode, could Sony be ready to greenlight this into a franchise?
Looking to hit a pair of box office marks we have been tracking here is The Holdovers. Focus Features’ release of Alexander Payne’s film made $2.7 million over the holiday to bring its total to $12.9 million. That crosses the $12.5 million threshold that many platform releases fail to cross, though the year-end holiday and awards season have pushed far more over than in the first nine months. Despite the studio making the film available for streaming this Tuesday, the film is at least destined to gross over $15 million, keeping Payne’s streak of crossing that line alive since Election in 1999, which was the last film of his not to achieve that.
Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins, on the other hand, opened wide last week but seems unlikely to hit that $15 million milestone. A small drop to $1.7 million this weekend brings its total to $5.7 million. Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla has been another limited success, making $1.3 million this weekend to bring its total to nearly $20 million. It is about $2 million away from passing The Disaster Artist to join A24’s top 10 domestic grossers. The studio hopes to do the same with another small expansion of Dream Scenario starring Nicolas Cage. In 124 theaters it grossed $639,000, raising its total to $1.39 million. It will expand even further this week. Finally, Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn expanded to 1,566 theaters this week, grossing $1.7 million over the weekend and carrying a total of $3.1 million to date. Her Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman made $6.4 million, opening in December of the 2020 pandemic.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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