Hollywood has stopped shying away from the pandemic: For the first time since March 2020, theaters had a wide array of new films available for exclusive screening over the holiday weekend. And the studios haven’t hedged their bets by offering simultaneous streaming options. To see “Encanto”, the campy crime drama “House of Gucci” or the latest installment in the sci-fi action franchise “Resident Evil”, you had to leave the couch, like in the good old days.
But some moviegoers are proving very difficult to attract.
“Encanto,” an original Disney musical about a gifted family in Colombia, grossed $ 40.3 million in 3,980 theaters across North America between Wednesday and Sunday. That total, which was enough for No.1, was equivalent to about 3.7 million customers, or about 35% of available seats, according to Steve Buck, chief strategy officer for EntTelligence, a research firm. Ticket buyers have given the film an A rating in CinemaScore’s exit polls.
With wide circulation outside the United States, with the notable exceptions of China and Australia, “Encanto” raised an additional $ 29.3 million. “It may take a while for people to find out about ‘Encanto’ through word of mouth and reviews,” Disney said in a results email on Sunday, referring to audiences overseas, where on weekends. end was not a public holiday. News of the Omicron variant may have hurt European participation, box office analysts said.
Disney, which spent around $ 175 million to make “Encanto,” not counting tens of millions in marketing costs, had hoped family audiences were finally ready to return to theaters on a large scale. Children as young as five became eligible for coronavirus vaccinations in the United States on November 2. For the first time this year, Disney did not send reporters a pre-release notice of poor market conditions.
“This is a fair opening by pandemic standards and a low opening by historic Disney standards,” David A. Gross, who heads film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, said Sunday in a report. E-mail.
“Encanto” features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose music helped Disney’s “Moana” animation sell $ 82.1 million in tickets during the five-day Thanksgiving period in 2016. In part because studios have diverted animated films from theaters to streaming services – Pixar’s “Luca” has played exclusively on Disney + in the US over the summer – the genre represents one of the biggest box office pieces that were lost during the pandemic. In 2019, Big Animated Releases raised $ 4.6 billion worldwide. Mr Gross estimated the animation will end this year with around $ 1.65 billion in ticket sales, a drop of about 64%.
Domestic ticket sales for “Encanto” nonetheless set a pandemic era record for an animated film. That fame is somewhat hollow, given that every other major animated movie since March 2020 has been released in theaters and on streaming services simultaneously. (They have included Universal’s “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and Paramount’s “Paw Patrol: The Movie.”) “Encanto” is slated to hit Disney + on December 24.
The ultimate performance of “Encanto,” both in theaters and on Disney +, is likely to inform Disney’s release plans for animated films over the coming year. “Most of the franchises we’ve had at The Walt Disney Company were built through the theatrical exhibits distribution channel,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek told analysts on a earnings conference call on November 10. at the same time, we are looking very, very carefully at different types of films to see how the different components of the demographics of that market are coming back.
Five films to watch this winter
“We still don’t know how the market will react when family films return with a first theatrical window,” he added.
For the holiday weekend in North America, Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was a solid runner-up, raising $ 35.3 million between Wednesday and Sunday, for a two-week national total of $ 87.8 million. dollars, according to Comscore, which compiles box office data. . “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” released Nov. 19, hijacked some family businesses from “Encanto,” box office analysts said.
“House of Gucci”, with Lady Gaga leading an ensemble cast, was a good third. He sold about $ 21.8 million in tickets during the five-day period. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which spent around $ 70 million to direct the R-rated crime drama, not counting significant marketing spend, noted Sunday that only 34% of ticket buyers were 45 or older.
“As with families, older moviegoers have been hesitant to return to the movies, watching more home entertainment,” Mr. Gross said. “The film would open 50% higher under normal circumstances, but that’s great.”
A positive sign for prestige films – December is high season, with Oscar hopefuls coming out every weekend – Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza,” released by United Artists, sizzled in a limited edition. The R-rated period film, a mix of comedy, drama and romance, grossed $ 335,000 at four theaters – two in New York City and two in Los Angeles – for an average per theater of $ 83,852. It was the best first specialty film in almost two years.