In a troubled start for the year-end holiday season, the feast at the 2022 Thanksgiving box office was among the most paltry in years as a varied menu of new movies largely failed to entice mainstream moviegoers.
The big exception was Marvel Studios and Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which stayed atop the five-day holiday box office chart — Wednesday-Sunday — with a hearty domestic gross of $64 million from 4,258 theaters for a domestic total of $367.7 million through Sunday. Overseas, it grossed another $32.1 million over the weekend proper to clear the $300 million mark internationally and finish Sunday with $675.6 million.
Conversely, Disney Animation’s Strange World bombed with a five-day opening of $18.6 million after receiving a mediocre B CinemaScore. That’s the worst opening for a Disney Animation Thanksgiving title in modern times after getting pummeled by poor word-of-mouth, and the first of the studio’s to earn anything less than an A- grade from CinemaScore. Overseas, it debuted over the weekend to $9 million from 43 material markets for a global bow of just $28 million.
Disney Animation titles have become a Thanksgiving staple. Last year, Charm posted a five-day gross of $40.6 million last year despite challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And in 2019, Frozen 2 grossed a record $125 million over the five-day Thanksgiving corridor.
Strange World opens just days after Bob Iger’s return as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. amid the shocking ouster of Bob Chapek, whose decision to send Pixar movies straight to Disney+ during the pandemic was criticized for confusing family audiences and training them to stay home and watch animated films on streaming.
Disney certainly knew Strange World — about a family of adventurers who set out to save their world from power source — was in trouble heading into the holiday based on muted tracking. Still, there were hopes it could clear at least $25 million or $30 million. Overseas, the film was banned in a number of Middle Eastern countries after the studio declined to censor scenes of the gay teenage son’s crush on another boy.
Elsewhere on the Thanksgiving menu, Netflix isn’t reporting grosses for Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, meaning it won’t be included on any official box-office charts. Nor will its revenue be included in overall ticket sales. Distribution executives, however, still have their way of collecting data directly from exhibition contacts. Several rival studio sources tell The Hollywood Reporter they believe Glass Onion earned $12.7 million to $13 million from 698 North American theaters, the best five-day Thanksgiving number of any adult-skewing film.
Without Glass Onion grosses, revenue for the five-day Thanksgiving corridor was down 53 percent or more from Thanksgiving 2019 and — more troubling — down 12 percent from last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was far more of an issue.
Glass Onion’s theatrical run is being billed as a one-week sneak preview, 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. While the sequel opened to far less than the $41.4 million grossed by Johnson’s Knives Out over Thanksgiving 2019 — the first film had the advantage of receiving a traditional theatrical release from Lionsgate in more than 3,800 locations — it likely took a bite out of rival adult-skewing movies Devotion and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans.
Sony and Black Label Media’s Korean War drama Devotion posted an estimated five-day holiday opening of $9 million from 3,405 cinemas after earning an A- CinemaScore. The well-reviewed film, about two naval fighter pilots, stars Top Gun: Maverick’s Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors.
In its second week of play, Searchlight’s epicurean horror-comedy grossed an estimated $7.4 million from 3,228 locations for the five days for a domestic tally of $18.7 million (the pic is doing solid business for a specialty title). Overseas, it took in $4.1 million from 41 markets for a global tally of $12.7 million.
Luca Guadagnino’s awards contender Bones and All — about two young lovers who are cannibals — expanded Wednesday into a total of 2,727 cinemas after launching in select theaters the previous weekend. The specialty pic earned a muted $3.6 million for the five days. Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet star in the twisted road-trip movie, which succeeded in luring younger consumers.
The jury is out on Steven Spielberg’s top awards contender The Fabelmanswhich is rolling out more slowly in hopes of emulating the success of the Oscar-winning film Green Book. (Both films are from Universal.) Spielberg’s latest film opened in New York and Los Angeles over the Nov. 11-13 weekend before expanding into 637 locations on Nov. 23.
Fabelmans posted a disappointing, five-day Thanksgiving gross of $3.1 million for an early domestic total of $3.4 million. Both Devotion and Fabelmans, produced by Amblin, needs older adults, who have been the most reluctant to return to theaters. Older adults also don’t rush out on opening weekend. Fabelmans will become available on premium VOD on Dec. 13.
At the international box office, Sony’s British film Matilda the Musical made headlines in opening to a rousing $5 million in the UK to command 50 percent of the marketplace. The film is based on Roald Dahl’s classic tale.