Thanksgiving Box Office Forecast: Will Holiday Moviegoers Feast On Encanto, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, House of Gucci, and Resident Evil?

Photo Credits: Sony / Columbia ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife"); Disney ("Encanto"); MGM, UAR, & Dariusz Wolski ("House of Gucci"); Sony Pictures ("Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City")

Wednesday Update: Disney reports this morning that Encanto earned $1.5 million from domestic previews beginning on Tuesday, setting the stage for a very healthy five-day holiday opening ahead that should at least meet the low end of our final forecasts reported below.

Meanwhile, UAR’s House of Gucci scored $1.3 million from previews and Sony’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City posted $935K. Each appear to be on track with final forecasts, but as always, pandemic-era models are fluid.

As Thanksgiving week release comparisons go from before the pandemic, Coco earned $2.3 million and Moana pulled $2.6 million in 2017 and 2016, respectively; Knives Out drew $1.6 million from Tuesday previews in 2019 (excluding $2.05 million from prior sneaks); and, 2018’s Robin Hood grossed $800K.

Tuesday Report: After a decidedly abnormal Thanksgiving weekend one year ago heading into the worst of the pandemic, movie theaters and audiences are now gearing up for a holiday that more closely resembles what we’ve come to expect from the official start of the season in years past.

How are the new releases and holdovers trending to perform?

PROS:

  • Following a strong $44 million opening weekend, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in line to begin an expected leggy holdover run thanks to very enthusiastic word of mouth and the long holiday corridor. The film boasts a 96 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and will retain a significant portion of its IMAX and PLF presence over the long holiday frame.
  • Disney’s Encanto is the studio’s first original animated film to open exclusively in theaters since Frozen II in November 2019. As children between the ages of 5 and 12 have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines this month, the timing could convince some cautious parents to make their first return to cinemas with families and young ones — especially given Disney’s pre-pandemic string of near-annual Thanksgiving box office hits.

    Reviews stand at a strong 93 percent as of Monday and pre-sales trends are far more encouraging than expected in recent tracking.
  • House of Gucci is aiming to leverage its all-star ensemble led by Lady Gaga — a strong draw for young women — as well as Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Al Pacino with an adult-driven feature opening only in movie theaters over the holiday. This is the type of marquee counter-programmer that attracted respectable business in pre-pandemic times, and could convince some of the over-35 crowd to make their cinematic return.

    The film’s marketing reach has been quite notable with heavy ad rotation across a number of digital and television events, driving strong social media footprints. Reviews lean positive at 66 percent.
  • The Resident Evil franchise has been a remarkably consistent brand on the big screen over the course of the past two decades, and an appeal toward young male audiences is a smart play with this reboot since that audience has proven to be the most willing to return to cinemas throughout the pandemic recovery so far.
  • Belfast, already a success in limited release, will expand from 584 locations to 1,128 in hopes of contending for a spot in the top ten again despite the flood of new competition. Meanwhile, Freestyle Releasing will open For the Love of Money at 519 locations.

CONS:

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife doesn’t have much going against it right now other than the fact that it will lose some PLF footprint to Encanto. Modest crossover with target family audiences to the Disney pic is worth considering as well.
  • Encanto itself is an original IP and, despite improving market conditions, is still at the mercy of pandemic considerations. Most children who began receiving vaccines this month won’t reach full inoculation until early December, according to health experts, so that may keep parents cautious yet still.
  • The over-35 crowd has been a tough sell throughout the recovery period, and House of Gucci needs a fair portion of them to show up in order to generate successful box office returns. The turnout of women over 35, who have been the most reticent to return to cinemas, will be a major factor given Lady Gaga’s presence and breakout role as an actress with 2018’s A Star Is Born.
  • 2016’s previous franchise iteration saw significantly diminished returns, and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City goes back to the drawing board with a new cast, director, and prequel/reboot approach. Combined with competition for the male audience against Afterlife‘s sophomore frame and expected fan front-loading, turnout could be lukewarm as evidenced by slow social media traction thus far and a muted marketing campaign. Reviews stand at 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wide Release Forecast Ranges

Encanto
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $32 – 42 million
5-Day Opening Weekend Range: $45 – 60 million

House of Gucci
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $14 – 19 million
5-Day Opening Weekend Range: $22 – 30 million

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $6 – 10 million
5-Day Opening Weekend Range: $9.5 – 15 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects a 35 to 45 percent increase for this weekend’s top ten films (3-day) from last weekend’s $80.4 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast 5-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, November 28 Location Count 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Encanto Walt Disney Pictures $39,300,000 $56,400,000 $56,400,000 3,980 NEW
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures / Columbia $26,200,000 $37,900,000 $91,100,000 4,315 -40%
House of Gucci United Artists Releasing $17,400,000 $26,900,000 $26,900,000 3,441 NEW
Eternals Disney / Marvel Studios $8,000,000 $11,400,000 $150,300,000 3,165 -28%
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Sony Pictures / Columbia $7,400,000 $11,500,000 $11,500,000 2,803 NEW
Clifford the Big Red Dog Paramount Pictures $6,500,000 $9,000,000 $45,100,000 3,292 -20%
King Richard Warner Bros. Pictures $4,100,000 $6,100,000 $12,800,000 3,302 -24%
Dune Warner Bros. Pictures $1,900,000 $2,700,000 $101,800,000 ~1,200 -40%
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Sony Pictures / Columbia $1,800,000 $2,600,000 $210,100,000 1,537 -38%
No Time to Die MGM / EON / United Artists Releasing $1,700,000 $2,400,000 $157,900,000 1,342 -39%
Belfast Focus Features $1,600,000 $2,100,000 $5,800,000 1,128 +70%

All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

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