‘Violent Night’ Decks the Box Office With $1.1 Million in Thursday Previews

Will Smith’s “Emancipation” opens in select theaters, while “Top Gun: Maverick” heads back to the big screen

Violent Night

Universal’s “Violent Night” took in $1.1 million at the Thursday evening box office, kicking off what the studio projects to be a $10 million opening weekend.

It played in 3,000 theaters starting at 5:00 p.m. and will expand to 3,682 theaters this weekend.

The action-comedy stars David Harbour as a rough-and-tumble Santa Claus who steps in to save a family that’s been taken hostage on Christmas Eve. John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Edi Patterson and Beverly D’Angelo round out the cast. Tommy Wirkola (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” “Dead Snow” franchise) directs, from a script by “Sonic the Hedgehog” duo Pat Casey and Josh Miller.

For a comparison, Universal’s holiday horror flick “Krampus” opened in early December 2015 to $16.5 million at the box office. It earned $637,000 in Thursday previews, eventually grossing $42.7 million in the U.S. and another $18.8 million internationally.

“Violent Night” is the sole major studio release on this early December weekend, which historically has been slow for the box office due to a mix of holiday shopping among the general public and studios saving their biggest end-of-year releases for closer to Christmas.

But with this year’s Thanksgiving releases, headlined by the Disney bomb “Strange World,” failing to make any sort of significant mark in theaters, the box office will have to rely on the diminishing holdovers from November’s sole hit, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which will likely cross the $400 million domestic mark this weekend. Some smaller help may also come from Paramount’s two-week re-release of “Top Gun: Maverick” ahead of the record-setting blockbuster’s streaming release on Dec. 22.

On the smaller-budget side are the limited releases of Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter” and “Spoiler Alert,” headlined by Jim Parsons. This weekend also sees the limited opening of Antoine Fuqua’s “Emancipation,” starring Will Smith as an enslaved man on the run.