Hollywood expects a few things around Thanksgiving: a hearty turkey dinner, lots of family time… and a Disney movie to dominate the box office. In keeping with tradition, the Magic Kingdom is set to fill the competition over the busy holiday weekend as ‘Strange World’, an animated adventure about a family of legendary explorers, hits theaters.
But it’s a holdover, Disney’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, that should reclaim the top spot in North America. The superhero sequel looks to extend his reign as it aims to raise at least $40 million between Wednesday and Sunday. So far, “Wakanda Forever” has grossed a whopping $287 million at the domestic box office and $545 million globally.
During the same period, the studio’s children’s story “Strange World” is expected to gross $30 million to $40 million from 4,000 North American theaters. It’s a decent, if unspectacular, start for a family film in the time of COVID.
By comparison, Disney’s musical fantasy “Encanto” raised $40.3 million during the long holiday season in 2021. During that time, kids had barely been able to get vaccinated, so parents were still reluctant to take your children to the cinema. In pre-pandemic times, Disney’s Thanksgiving releases — like 2019’s “Frozen II” ($123.7 million), 2018’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” ($84.6 million), and 2017’s “Coco” ($ 71 million) – were much more successful in their respective opening weekends. But in the COVID era, families have remained selective about which movies they’re willing to leave the house to see. With the exception of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and its $107 million debut, most films aimed at young people have failed to rebound to pre-plague levels. That’s a problem because animated films tend to command high price tags — closer to $180 million for “Strange World” up to $200 million in the case of Pixar’s “Lightyear” — and that doesn’t include marketing spend.
“Strange World” looks to add $25 million to $29 million at the international box office, where it will open everywhere except China, France and Russia. But its receipts abroad could be limited. Disney opted not to pitch the film to several smaller markets, including the entire Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia because the studio knew it would not pass censorship regulations necessary to get a theatrical release in those markets. territories. That’s because “Strange World,” which follows the Clades family’s attempt to navigate an uncharted and treacherous land, includes a gay character. Many of these countries have strict censorship mandates regarding sexuality, profanity, and other content and characters that do not conform to the nation’s cultural views. Films with LGBTQ references were routinely targeted by censors in the Middle East, as well as China, and Disney was unwilling to cut portions of the film to comply with those guidelines.
“In the countries where we operate, we try to share our stories in their original form as we and the artists involved created them. If we make any changes, whether due to legal or other considerations, they will be as narrow as possible,” Disney said in a statement. “We will not make a change where we believe it would impact the storytelling. content in that market”.
In North America, moviegoers will be able to dine on several new domestic offerings, including the Jonathan Majors-directed aerial warfare drama “Devotion,” director Luca Guadagnino’s cannibalistic romance “Bones and All,” and Steven Spielberg “The Fabelmans.” However, those films, mostly aimed at an adult audience, could make do with scraps. It’s been a tough environment for drama, comedy…basically anything that isn’t aimed at teenage boys. Just look at such acclaimed films as ‘she She Said’, ‘Tár’ and ‘Till’, which failed to resonate at the box office despite garnering critical acclaim.
“Devotion” should ensure the biggest start among newcomers. But despite mostly positive reviews, the film, which tells the inspiring true story of the first black aviator in the US Navy, is expected to debut to a shaky $7 million to $8 million over five days. Sony is bringing “Devotion” to 2,950 locations.
Universal’s “The Fabelmans” could fare even worse, with estimates hovering at $5 million Wednesday through Sunday. Even though it plays in just 600 locations—far fewer than most major releases—it’s a disappointing result for a $40 million film, especially one from the most successful director of his time. After two weeks on limited release, “The Fabelmans” grossed $309,655.
For Spielberg, a roughly $5 million start is significantly less than his latest film, 2021’s “West Side Story,” which made a bleak $10 million in its first weekend on a (much beefier) 2,500 screens worldwide. amidst a surge in COVID cases. The $100 million-budget musical adaptation, which won an Academy Award and was nominated for six others, finished its theatrical run with a measly $76 million globally.
After a special week at the box office, MGM’s “Bones and All” looks to add $6 million to $8 million as it expands nationwide. So far, the $20 million budget film has earned $120,000 in limited release. Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell star in “Bones and All” as carnivorous lovers who go on a road trip.
A major film won’t even make a dent in the box office charts. Netflix is bringing “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the sequel to Rian Johnson’s 2019 hit Whodonit, to approximately 600 North American theaters. Yet the studio has no plans to report takings, so the film’s appeal among consumers could be confused as one of Detective Benoit Blanc’s layered cases.
The star-studded murder mystery — which will air on the big screen for a week starting Wednesday before landing on the streaming service Dec. 23 — marks the first time a Netflix film will screen in the country’s three biggest chains: AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark. But since it’s only playing a few hundred locations, executives at the rival studio estimate the follow-up will bring in just $6 million to $8 million in its one-week run.
Lionsgate released the first film, starring Daniel Craig as a crack detective and opened around Thanksgiving to $26 million. It became a big win for the original fee, hitting $165 million in North America and $311 million worldwide. Given the success of the original, many cinematographers are disappointed that “Glass Onion” won’t have a longer run in theaters. But the stark reality is that the thaeter film business has not fully recovered from the COVID-related shutdowns. At this point, they will take what they can get.