Disney’s “Encanto,” a magical fable that has earned critical raves, led a muted Thanksgiving box office, earning $5.8 million on Thursday and pushing its domestic total to $13.3 million.
This holiday is shaping up to be far quieter than past ones, a sign that COVID-19 continues to depress ticket sales in the U.S. despite the widespread availability of boosters and vaccines for younger children. However, there were some hopeful signs for the exhibition sector. MGM’s “House of Gucci” is shaping up to be one of the rare adult dramas to connect with audiences this fall. The look at the family behind the fashion empire earned $3.4 million on Turkey Day and confirmed Lady Gaga’s box office appeal following her star turn in 2018’s “A Star is Born.” The movie has grossed $7.6 million in its first two days of release.
Both “Encanto” and “House of Gucci” have significant price tags — the family film cost a reported $120 million to make, while the fashion drama had a $75 million budget. If “House of Gucci” continues to put up impressive numbers, it will be in defiance of recent trends. Since the pandemic upended the movie business, audiences have only shown an interest in going back to multiplexes to watch big action films or superhero flicks. They have largely steered clear of dramas and awards contenders such as “Belfast,” “King Richard” and “Spencer” despite the glowing reviews that accompanied the release of those movies.
Sony’s “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City,” a reboot of the long-running horror series, earned $1 million on Thursday, pushing its domestic gross to $3.5 million. The film, which centers on a band of survivors trying to outlast a zombie outbreak (ah, that old chestnut!), was a rather modest affair. It only cost $25 million to produce, so it doesn’t need to be a world-straddling box office colossus to turn a profit. That’s been a recurring problem for movies in the age of coronavirus era. They were greenlit in much different circumstances and carry massive budgets, which has left even the year’s highest-grossing films fighting to hold their head above an ocean of red ink.
And Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” another franchise reboot, netted $5.4 million on the holiday to bring its stateside haul to $63.3 million. It was the second highest-grossing film on Thursday and topped the box office last weekend. Marvel and Disney’s “Eternals” rounded out the top five, coming in behind the fourth place-finishing “Resident Evil” sequel with $1.6 million. Its domestic total hovers at $142.7 million after three weeks of release.
As it stands, “Encanto” should bring in $40 million over the five-day holiday (much less than other, pre-pandemic Disney animated offerings such as “Frozen 2” and “Ralph Breaks The Internet” have managed over the same period). That will likely leave “House of Gucci” with an impressive $20 million-plus Thanksgiving week haul and Sony’s “Resident Evil” reimagining with a $12 million gross. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” should snag second place with $35 million or so over the five-day spread.
Thanksgiving isn’t a major day for moviegoing, but Black Friday is a major source of box office. Friday’s grosses will be much more illustrative of whether or not the movie business has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.