The Thanksgiving box office is off to a decidedly worrisome start, with overall revenue paling in comparison to other years.
For Disney, it appears to a case of feast or famine. While Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will stay atop the box office chart for the third weekend in a row with a hearty gross of $60 million to $65 million for the five-days (Wednesday through Sunday), Disney Animation’s Strange World is in serious trouble.
Wakanda Forever led Wednesday with $10 million from 4,174 theaters for a domestic total of $313.7 million.
There was no feasting, however for Strange World, which posted an opening day gross of $4.2 million from 4,174 sites after earning a lukewarm B CinemaScore. At this pace, the family film is looking at a five-day opening of $24 million-$26 million, the worst opening for a Disney Animation Thanksgiving title in history (Disney Animation titles, such as Frozen, usually dominate the holiday.)
Last year, Encanto posted a five-day gross of $40.6 million after earning $7.8 million on Wednesday despite challenges posed by the COVID-10 pandemic. And in 2019, Frozen 2 grossed a record $125 million for the five days.
Strange World opens just days after Bob Iger’s return as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. after the shocking ouster of Bob Chapek.
A slew of other new films are also competing for their place at the Thanksgiving table. On Wednesday, Sony’s Korea war drama Devotion, about two naval fighter pilots, grossed $1.8 million from 3,228 sites for a projected 5-day gross in the $10 million range. The film stars Top Gun: Maverick‘s Adam Powell and Jonathan Majors.
The big mystery is Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, featuring a cast led by Daniel Craig. Netflix isn’t expected to report box office grosses in keeping with its long-standing practice to keep numbers hidden from view.
Glass Onion is getting an unprecedented release, and is the first of the streamer’s titles to play in all three of the country’s largest chains — AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theatres. Rivals distribution executives still have their way of collecting data directly from exhibition contacts, and two sources tell that Johnson’s sequel likely earned $1.9 million on Wednesday from 680 theaters. That means it could open to $9 million or more over the five-day holiday corridor, far less than the $41.4 million grossed by Johnson’s Knives Out over Thanksgiving 2019 (the first film received a traditional theatrical release from Lionsgate.)
Searchlight’s epicurean horror-comedy The Menu, which is heading into its second weekend, placed No. 4 Wednesday with around $1.1 million from 3,228 locations for a solid five-day haul of $6 million or so.
Luca Guadagnino’s awards contender Bones and All — about two young lovers and cannibals played by Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet who embark on a road trip — grossed an estimated $921,000 million Wednesday as it expanded into a total of 2,727 cinemas after launching in select theaters last weekend. The specialty movie is anticipating a muted five-day gross of $4 million.
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical The Fablemans, a key awards player, is rolling out more slowly in hopes of emulating the success of Oscar-winning film Green Book. Spielberg’s latest film opened in New York and Los Angeles over the Nov 11-13 weekend before expanding into 637 locations on Wednesday. From Universal and Amblin, the pic earned an estimated $400,000 Wednesday for a projected five-day gross of $3 million.
Holdover Black Adam is also in the mix with an anticipated five-day gross of $4 million or so from 2,842 theaters.
Studios stress that projections could shift as the holiday unfolds. Some analysts are already postulating that the Thanksgiving box office traffic is taking a hit because people are finally able to travel in earnest now that the worst of the pandemic is over.