Searchlight Pictures is moving Taika Waititi’s next film, “Next Goal Wins,” into the Thanksgiving season with a release slate shift from Sept. 22 to Nov. 17.
The Oscar-winning writer-director behind “Jojo Rabbit” and “Thor: Ragnarok” will tell the true story of Thomas Rongen (played by Michael Fassbender), the soccer coach tasked with turning around the American Samoa national team, considered to be one of the weakest teams in international play, and make a longshot bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Previously moved from April 2023 to September, “Next Goal Wins” is now in a November slot traditionally used by specialty distributors like Searchlight to launch potential awards contenders. It will seek to draw older audiences with its inspirational message and Waititi’s trademark humor against blockbusters like Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and Universal/DreamWorks’ “Trolls Band Together”
The release slot also gives Searchlight an opportunity to build word-of-mouth on the film into Thanksgiving weekend, when Disney’s “Wish” and Apple’s “Napoleon” from director Ridley Scott will be released. Theaters will be looking for this wider range of films to resurrect the Thanksgiving box office after overall grosses for the extended weekend failed to reach $100 million last year.