‘Wakanda Forever’ Leads Thanksgiving Box Office

‘Wakanda Forever’ Leads Thanksgiving Box Office

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Hollywood expects a few things around Thanksgiving: a hearty turkey dinner, lots of family time… and a Disney movie to rule the box office. In keeping with tradition, the Magic Kingdom is poised to fill the competition over the busy holiday weekend when “Strange World,” an animated adventure about a family of legendary explorers, opens in theaters.

But it’s a holdover, Disney’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which is expected to claim the No. 1 spot in North America. The superhero sequel looks set to extend its reign as it aims to raise at least $40 million between Wednesday and Sunday. To date, “Wakanda Forever” has grossed a substantial $287 million at the domestic box office and $545 million worldwide.

During the same stretch, the studio’s kid-friendly fable “Strange World” is expected to gross $30 million to $40 million in 4,000 North American movie theaters. That’s a decent, if unspectacular, start for a family movie in COVID times.

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By comparison, Disney’s musical fantasy “Encanto” collected $40.3 million during the extended holiday season in 2021. Around that time, young children were just getting vaccinated, so parents were still hesitant to take their kids to the movies. In pre-pandemic times, Disney’s Thanksgiving releases — such as 2019’s “Frozen II” ($123.7 million), 2018’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” ($84.6 million), and 2017’s “Coco” ($71 million) – significantly more successful in their respective opening weekends. But in the era of COVID, families have remained selective about the movies they’re willing to leave home to see. With the exception of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and its $107 million debut, most movies aimed at youth have failed to return to pre-bullying heights. That’s a problem, because animated films tend to have hefty price tags — closer to $180 million for “Strange World” to $200 million in the case of Pixar’s “Lightyear” — and that doesn’t include marketing costs.

“Strange World” looks set to add $25 million to $29 million at the international box office, where it opens everywhere except China, France and Russia. But overseas revenues may be limited. Disney chose not to submit the film to several smaller markets, including all of the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia, because the studio knew it would not meet the censorship rules necessary to allow a theatrical release in those territories. to get. That’s because “Strange World,” which follows the Clades family’s attempt to navigate an unfamiliar, treacherous land, features a storyline involving a same-sex couple. Many of those countries have strict censorship mandates regarding sexuality, swearing, and other content and characters that are inconsistent with the country’s cultural views. Films with LGBTQ references have regularly been the target of censorship in the Middle East and also in China, and Disney was unwilling to cut parts of the film to meet those guidelines.

“In 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 changes for legal or other reasons, they will be as narrow as possible,” Disney said in a statement. spread market.”

In North America, moviegoers can dine out with several new national offerings, including Jonathan Majors-led aerial war drama “Devotion,” director Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal love story “Bones and All,” and Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age story. “The Fabelmans.” However, those films – usually aimed at mature audiences – can settle for leftovers. It’s been a rough environment for dramas, comedies… basically anything that isn’t aimed at teenage boys. Just look at critically acclaimed movies like “She Said,” “Tár,” and “Till,” which failed to resonate at the box office despite critical acclaim.

“Devotion” is expected to secure the biggest start among newcomers. But despite mostly positive reviews, the movie, which tells the inspiring true story of the first black aviator in the US Navy, is expected to debut at a shaky $7 million to $8 million over its five-day frame. Sony is bringing “Devotion” to 2,950 locations.

Universal’s “The Fabelmans” may fare even worse, with estimates hovering around $5 million between Wednesday and Sunday. Even though it’s only playing in 600 locations – far less than the others in wide release – it’s a disappointing result for a $40 million film, especially one coming from the most successful director of his time. After two weeks in limited release, “The Fabelmans” has grossed $309,655.

For Spielberg, a start of about $5 million is somehow even lower than his last film, 2021’s “West Side Story,” which grossed a dismal $10 million in its first weekend amid a wave of COVID-19. cases. The $100 million-budgeted Oscar-winning musical adaptation ended its theatrical run with a dismal $76 million worldwide.

After a week at the specialized box office, MGM’s “Bones and All” looks set to add $6 million to $8 million as it expands nationwide. So far, with a budget of $20 million, the film has made $120,000 in limited release. Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell star in “Bones and All” as carnivorous lovers who embark on a road trip.

One big movie won’t even make a dent in the charts. Netflix is ​​bringing “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” a sequel to Rian Johnson’s 2019 hit Whodonit, to approximately 600 North American theaters. Still, the studio has no plans to report gross numbers, so the film’s appeal with consumers could be as hazy as one of Detective Benoit Blanc’s layered cases.

The star-studded murder mystery — which will play on the big screen for a week starting on Wednesday before hitting the streaming service on Dec. 23 — marks the first time a Netflix movie will play across the country’s three biggest chains – AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark. But since it’s only playing at a few hundred locations, rival studio executives estimate the follow-up will only gross $6 million to $8 million over the course of a week.

Lionsgate released the first movie, starring Daniel Craig as a wayward sleuth, and opened around Thanksgiving to $26 million. It turned out to be a big win for the original rate, with $165 million in North America and $311 million worldwide. Given the success of the original, many movie theater operators are disappointed that “Glass Onion” will no longer run in theaters. But the harsh reality is that the film industry has not yet fully recovered from COVID closures. At this point they will take what they can get.

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