Thanksgiving Box Office Update: Not Good for Strange World, Devotion

L-R: Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid), Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union), Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World. © 2022 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The updates are in for the Thanksgiving weekend box office and it’s not good news for either Strange World or Devotion.

One takeaway from this weekend is that we’re still not back to the pre-pandemic numbers. This weekend’s box office is down 12% compared to last year. It’s not even close to what the numbers were in 2018. Will numbers return to normal next year or is this going to be the new normal? When audiences know that a film will be available to watch from home in 45 days or less, they need a reason to see something in a movie theater. Devotion is a film that looks and sounds so beautiful in IMAX and yet, audiences just are not rushing to see the $90 million Korean War naval aviator film. It only brought in $9 million over the weekend. Will the film be able to leg out? Let’s hope so.

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans was never going to be a huge money maker. The autobiographical drama is not playing in some 600+ theaters. One friend reported that it was playing on one of the smaller screens at their theater. This helps explain why the film is making less money per screen compared to other films. It’s a wide release by definition standards but it’s not widely available as some other Oscar contenders are. Could Universal expand the film even more in the weeks to come? I hope so.

I know people who are waiting until Glass Onion hits Netflix. My parents reported their theater was 75% full on Saturday, which is awesome because the film is an audience movie that works best in a theatrical experience. The estimated $15 million is head over heels compared to last year’s Red Notice, which launched well before the holiday weekend.

Before I turn attention over to Disney’s bigger films, Searchlight’s The Menu is doing well for an art house horror comedy. The estimated $7.4 million brings the film to just shy of $20 million in its run. Ticket to Paradise, which opened in October, isn’t quite doing the big numbers that one expects for a rom-com starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It’s already available to watch at home on PVOD but there’s no excuse why this film is doing less than $100 million. The old-school rom-com would have done great business in the 1990s or early 2000s. She Said continues to be the awards contender that should have been platformed instead of opening wide. It’s an important film in terms of storytelling but if audiences want to be entertained, it won’t be their first choice.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was always going to win the Thanksgiving box office. This just goes without saying. I know some people that didn’t go during opening weekend as they were waiting to see it with families over the holiday. While it’s #1 slot was inevitable, everything else is left fighting for the audience’s attention.

While things look good for Disney on the Marvel front, the studio will enter their 100th year of wonder with one of their worst animation performers in studio history. Strange World is not tearing it up like one would hope. In fact, the film could not even bring in $20 million this weekend. We’ll have to see what the actuals look like in a few days from now. At this point, the best bet is hoping the film finds an audience on Disney+. It sucks. Think about the morale for animators at either Disney Animation or Pixar right now. Bob Chapek sent more Pixar films direct to Disney+ than ever before. It’s reasonable as to why they released Soul on Disney+ given where Covid was at the time. But everything else? There’s no excuse.

Listen, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We need to have a long talk about how streaming is hurting the box office. People know to see the big blockbuster films in theaters. The large majority of audiences will go during opening weekend so as to avoid spoilers. But everything else? Studios need to start giving them a reason to not wait. Movie theaters, too. The rising costs of tickets certainly tells me that movie theaters are factoring into the decision to stay home or go to theaters. Why pay $40 or more for tickets and even more for food when a family can pay $7.99 or $10.99 per month for Disney+ and wait another month before watching the film? This is something that both studios and theaters need to take into account. Adam Aron can be happy about Bob Iger being back but AMC is not helping.

I understand that there are families who are still avoiding theaters because of the pandemic. It’s understandable–there are areas where numbers are rising again. Is this playing a role in the decision to stay home? Or is it how much it costs a family to see a movie in theaters these days?

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.