Thanksgiving weekend has shown how far box office recovery has come and how far it has to go, as Disney’s “Encanto” leads the field with a $40.3 million extended opening and overall movie grosses reach $141 million, which is down 45% from Thanksgiving weekend 2019.
“Encanto” opened to roughly half of what fellow Disney films “Moana” ($82 million) and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” ($84.7 million) earned in their Thanksgiving debuts, but is notable for being the first animated film this year to release exclusively in theaters. Studios have hedged their bets on family turnout to theaters by releasing animated films like “Paw Patrol: The Movie” and “Space Jam 2” day-and-date. Universal will be the next studio to release an animated film in theaters only with “Sing 2” on Dec. 22.
Internationally, “Encanto” added $29.3 million for a global box office launch of $69.6 million. Befitting a film set in Colombia, it has scored the highest opening for an animated film this year in all South American markets, as well as in Spain, France, Belgium and Indonesia.
Disney is hoping that rave word-of-mouth will allow this $120 million animated film to leg out, as it sports a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, an A on CinemaScore and 4.5/5 on Postrak from parents and general audiences “Encanto” will be in theaters for 30 days and will be released on Disney+ in time for Christmas.
Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is in second on the box office charts this weekend with $35 million grossed over 5 days from 4,315 locations, giving the film a total of $87.8 million over two weekends. The Fri.-Sun. total for this sequel is $24.3 million, just a 45% drop from the film’s $44 million launch. So far, the film is fulfilling Sony’s hopes for a “Jumanji”-esque performance, using strong word of mouth to leg out after a relatively modest opening.
In third is MGM’s “House of Gucci” with a $21.8 million extended launch from 3,447 locations, including a $14.2 million total from Fri.-Sun. that is the largest for any adult drama this year and well above the $4.75 million launch for director Ridley Scott’s other 2021 film, “The Last Duel,” which bombed with just $28.8 million grossed against a $100 million budget.
While other adult dramas have struggled to draw both younger audiences and more COVID-wary older ones this year, “Gucci” has shown progress on both fronts with 34% of its audience this weekend over the age of 45, while 45% of moviegoers were in the 18-35 age group. A total 59% of the audience was female, as expected for a film with Lady Gaga in the lead role.
The bad news for “Gucci” is that like so many other films releasing in a COVID-stricken marketplace, it faces an uphill road to profitability with a reported $75 million budget before marketing costs. While the Ridley Scott film led the U.K. box office with $3.4 million, it grossed just $12.8 million from 40 markets this weekend for a $34.6 million global launch. Word of mouth has only been somewhat positive with a 60% Rotten Tomatoes score and a B+ from audiences on CinemaScore.
Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” and Sony/Screen Gems newcomer “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” complete the top 5, with “Eternals” crossing the $150 million mark in its fourth weekend in theaters with $11 million added over the 5-day period, bringing its global total to $368 million.
“Resident Evil” has opened to $8.6 million from 2,803 locations, meeting pre-release projections of an $8-10 million extended launch. The horror reboot film had the lowest production budget of this weekend’s newcomers at just $25 million, though it has weak reception with a C+ on CinemaScore and a 26% RT critics score.