Thanksgiving Box Office pickings surprisingly slim

Box Office
(Encanto tops slow B.O. weekend)

Ticket sales over the Thanksgiving holiday show that cinephile confidence in safely viewing movies in theaters is slowly improving, but not enough to bring the struggling Box Office back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.

Excluding 2020, combined domestic ticket sales for the holiday hit their lowest level in a quarter of a century. Box office ticket sales for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday were down around 46% from 2019. Domestic ticket sales from Wednesday to Sunday were about $140 million, compared to $263 million in 2019 and $315 million in 2018.

Disney’s Encanto was the clear holiday weekend winner, bringing $27 million over the weekend and $40.3 million across the five-day holiday frame, according to studio estimates on Sunday. While well off the pace of past Disney animated movies released over Thanksgiving, Coco launched at the same time of year with $72 million and Ralph Breaks the Internet did as well with $84 million, which was the best opening for an animated movie during the pandemic.

Encanto follows the Madrigals, an extraordinary family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed place called the Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift, every child except Mirabel. However, she soon may be the Madrigals last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.

Last week’s top film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife slid to second place with $24.5 million in its second week after a modest 44% drop. Afterlife follows the story of a single mother and her two children as they move to a new town,  and they soon discover they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. The Sony Pictures release has grossed $87.8 million domestically and $28 million internationally. 

MGM’s House of Gucci, directed by Ridley Scott, which brought in $21 million took the #3 spot on the list. The $75 million-budgeted House of Gucci, about the family behind the Italian fashion brand, features a large cast including Adam Driver, Jared Leto and Al Pacino. But its star, Lady Gaga, who plays Patrizia Reggiani, especially drove the turnout. The film follows Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, who marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder. 

In its fourth weekend of release Marvel’s Eternals added $7.9 million in ticket sales over the three-day weekend to bring its North America cumulative total to $150.6 million and $368 million globally. Down only 29 percent the Marvel film slipped from #2 to #4.

Sony Pictures’ horror division, Screen Gems, opened the R-rated Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, a reboot in the now seven-film videogame adaptation franchise, which took the #5 spot on the list. It debuted with $5.3 million for the three-day weekend and $8.8 million for the holiday frame. The action-horror pic is directed by Johannes Roberts and stars Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue and Neal McDonough.

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#6 Clifford the Big Red Dog is benefitting from vaccines being eligible to children ages 5-11 and maintaining its place on the top ten list, yet slipping from #3 down to #6 in its third week in both theaters as well as Paramount+.

Warner Brothers’ high-profile biopic King Richard, which is also playing on HBO Max, was expected to rally over Thanksgiving weekend after opening to a disappointing $5.7 million the previous weekend. Instead, it fell to #7 in its sophomore outing for a 10-day domestic cume of $11.4 million. The Oscar hopeful stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. King Richard is also available on HBO Max.

At #8 Dune has earned $102.3 million domestic. While Dune was on HBO Max during its first 31 days in theaters, it’s now exclusively theatrical, currently playing in 1,312 theaters with a Thanksgiving weekend outlook of $2.26M over three days and $3.2M since Wednesday which brought its running U.S./Canada total to $102.3 million.

MGM’s James Bond film No Time to Die, with $755 million globally, will rank as the No. 1 film of the year as it slides down the list from #7 to #9 in its 8th week in theaters. In addition to theaters, No Time To Die is currently available for PVOD rental, with its physical release slated to arrive on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD on December 21st.

Rounding out the top ten at #10, Venom: Let There Be Carnage began what will likely be a multiple-week run atop VOD charts while still maintaining a spot on the box office top 10 list. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is already 2021’s #2 box office winner for a film involving a Marvel character and has little immediate competition in VOD sales. The film, currently in its 9th week at the box office, had an eight-weekend theatrical window before getting a home release.

The Top 10 (3 day)

1. Encanto (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 75; Est. budget: $120 million

$27,000,000 in 3,908 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,785;  Cumulative: $40,300,000

2. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$24,500,000 (-44%) in 4,315 (+16) theaters; PTA: $5,678; Cumulative: $87,758,000

3. House of Gucci (United Artists) NEW -Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 59; Est. budget: $75 million

$14,231,000 in 3,441 theaters (3 days); PTA: $4,093; Cumulative: $21,833,000

4. The Eternals (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$7,900,000 (-29%) in 3,165 (-390) theaters (3 days); PTA: $2,496; Cumulative: $150,644,000

5. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (Sony) NEW – Metacritic: 44; Est. budget: $25 million

$5,275,000 in 2,803 theaters; PTA: $1,882,000; Cumulative: $8,800,000

6. Clifford the Big Red Dog (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #3; also on Paramount Plus

$4,875,000 (-40%) in 3,292 (-336) theaters; PTA: $1,481; Cumulative: $42,883,000

7. King Richard (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #4; also on HBO Max

$3,300,000 (-39%) in 3,302 (no change) theaters; PTA: $999; Cumulative: $11,378,000

8. Dune (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #6

$2,165,000 (-39%) in 1,312 (-1,155) theaters; PTA: 1,710; Cumulative: $102,242,000

9. No Time to Die (United Artists) Week 8; Last weekend #7; also on Premium VOD

$1,753,000 (-37%) in 1,342 (-1,065) theaters; PTA: $1,306; Cumulative: $158,128,000

10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) Week 9; Last weekend #6; also on Premium VOD

$1,565,000 (-46%) in 1,537 (-693) theaters; PTA: $1,018; Cumulative: $209,516,000

Theater viewers seem to have been hesitant over the holiday weekend, however ticket sales for Sony and Marvel’s upcoming release of Spider-Man: No Way Home nearly broke the internet as sites and apps like AMC and Fandango crashed under the weight of anxious fans scrambling to get their tickets, weeks in advance.

The resulting Box Office sales could more closely resemble a blockbuster from the pre-pandemic era. The film is set to be the biggest moneymaker of 2021, and it could be the first of the year to open to $100 million domestically.


Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.