Hollywood and theater owners have reason to be thankful this holiday season, even if moviegoing has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Walt Disney Animation’s musical adventure Encanto is succeeding in luring families back to the multiplex and is looking at a five-day Thanksgiving opening of $40 million or more after grossing $11 million on Black Friday.
Fueled by Latinos and an A CinemaScore, Encanto should boast the top showing of the COVID-19 era for a family title. It is the first major animated studio title to receive an exclusive theatrical window since the pandemic struck in spring 2020 and opens as younger children are authorized to be vaccinated.
With original songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Encanto tells the tale of a Colombian teenager who has to save her extended family’s magic, although she has no special gifts of her own. Byron Howard, Jared Bush and Charise Castro Smith directed.
The animated film’s voice cast includes Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, Wilmer Valderrama, Adassa, Diane Guerrero, Mauro Castillo, Angie Cepeda, Jessica Darrow, Rhenzy Feliz, Carolina Gaitán, Ravi Cabot-Conyers and John Leguizamo.
On Wednesday, Encanto opened at the domestic box office alongside MGM and United Artists’ adult-skewing drama House of Gucci and Sony’s action-horror reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. (The Thanksgiving corridor is one of the most lucrative moviegoing times of the year; holiday box office revenue this year looks to trail 2019 by about 44 percent)
House of Gucci is also doing better than expected, earning $5.9 million on Friday for a projected five-day debut of $22 million or more, the best showing of the pandemic era for an adult drama.
Like family films, adult-skewing films have been slow to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
A player in the awards race, House of Gucci stars Lady Gaga as the wife of fashion scion Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver. Al Pacino and Jared Leto also star in this tale of murderous revenge, with Ridley Scott directing. It received a B+ from audiences (one reason could be its 158-minute running time).
Another Thanksgiving winner is Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which launched last weekend and held at No. 2 behind Encanto. (House of Gucci is a strong No. 3).
Afterlife, which earned $9.8 million on Black Friday, is expected to gross $37 million-plus for the five days, pushing its domestic tally to $90 million by Sunday.
Sony and Screen Gems’ reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — about a group of survivors trying to survive a zombie attack in their small town — is struggling in its debut.
Racoon City is looking at a sixth-place finish with a five-day opening of $8 million or more (Friday’s take was $2 million). The action-horror pic is directed by Johannes Roberts and stars Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue and Neal McDonough.
Warner Bros.’ King Richard, another Thanksgiving offering that opened opposite Afterlife last weekend, is expected to fall to No. 7 in its second weekend to finish Sunday with a subdued domestic cume of $11 million-plus.
The awards contender, starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, still hopes to build at the box office thanks to stellar reviews and 99 percent exit scores. King Richard is also available on HBO Max.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza is making headlines at the specialty box office as it opens this weekend in exclusive 70mm runs in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The MGM and UAR title is expected to post a per theater average of $84,000, by far the best of the pandemic era and a huge boost for the struggling arthouse market.
Updated numbers will be released Sunday morning.
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