Weekend Box Office Forecast: Encanto and Ghostbusters: Afterlife to Lead Post-Thanksgiving Lull; Does Christmas with The Chosen Have Sleeper Potential?

Photo Credits: Disney ("Encanto"); Sony Pictures ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife"); Angel Studios & Fathom Events ("Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers")

Following a holiday frame that saw Encanto and House of Gucci welcome back some family and adult moviegoers for the first time during the pandemic, the box office is poised for a typical post-Thanksgiving lull as December begins with no major studio openers.

Expected to lead the market again will be Disney’s aforementioned animated pic in its sophomore frame. Coming off a $40.6 million five-day opening, Encanto may not have lived up to pre-pandemic earnings of past Disney films over Thanksgiving, but it far outpaced any family-driven release to hit theaters since early 2020.

Overall, last weekend’s box office represented a 781 percent increase over the same holiday frame last year when many theaters were closed and vaccines weren’t yet available. Strong reviews and positive word of mouth for Encanto should generate staying power in the weeks ahead as the holiday corridor rolls on and the picture remains exclusive to theaters for another few weeks.

Close behind, though, will be the third frame of Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife as it too benefits from enthusiastic audience reception. The franchise sequel is poised to cross the $100 million domestic threshold over the coming weekend and remains a draw across various demographics.

As has often been the case in years past, major studios are sitting out the post-Turkey Day box office arena to allow existing titles in release to stretch their legs while consumers also begin Christmas shopping and planning. The exception this weekend will be Fathom Events’ Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers as it hits an estimated 1,600 locations across North America.

Based on the popular, crowdfunded television series The Chosen, this special event episode in theaters is generating strong interest from fans and the faith-based audience while benefiting from strong grassroots ad campaigns. Pre-sales have been quite robust for the genre, selling out many shows for Wednesday’s opening night. Fathom previously reported more than $1.5 million in pre-sales during just the first 12 hours of ticket availability.

Alternative content releases are generally challenging to model in forecasting, especially during this pandemic era when comparisons are few and far between. Still, the Christmas special is trending strongly enough that it could be a sleeper to crack into the top five at the box office this weekend depending on how much demand burns off before Friday and how much a front-loaded event it might be.

Christmas with The Chosen is currently estimated to be the seventh most booked film of the weekend at domestic theaters, according to Showtimes Dashboard insights. It’s unknown whether Fathom report box office receipts on a daily and/or weekend basis, but trends have been encouraging enough that we’re including it in this week’s forecast.

On the remaining holdover front, it’s safe to expect noticeable drops by sophomore players House of Gucci and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, among others in their chase weekends. Dune will notably regain IMAX screens as part of a one-week expansion back into the premium format where a significant share of its fans chose to see the film upon opening back in October.

News of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could also become a factor in consumer comfort levels, but that remains a fluid variable. Thus far, it seems to have had little to no significant impact on daily box office sales.

Wide Release Forecast Ranges

Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $2 – 4 million
5-Day Opening Weekend Range: $3 – 6 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects a 46 to 51 percent decrease for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $92.7 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, December 5 Location Count % Change from Last Wknd
Encanto Walt Disney Pictures $13,900,000 $59,400,000 3,980 -49%
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures / Columbia $11,000,000 $103,300,000 4,059 -55%
House of Gucci United Artists Releasing $7,500,000 $34,100,000 3,477 -48%
Eternals Disney / Marvel Studios $4,100,000 $156,700,000 3,230 -48%
Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers Fathom Events / Angel Studios $2,900,000 $4,400,000 ~1,600 NEW
Clifford the Big Red Dog Paramount Pictures $2,800,000 $46,800,000 3,261 -44%
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Sony Pictures / Columbia $2,700,000 $13,300,000 2,803 -49%
King Richard Warner Bros. Pictures $1,500,000 $13,700,000 2,654 -54%
Dune Warner Bros. Pictures $1,200,000 $104,000,000 1,217 -42%
No Time to Die MGM / EON / United Artists Releasing $875,000 $159,400,000 1,177 -49%
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Sony Pictures / Columbia $850,000 $210,800,000 1,234 -46%
Belfast Focus Features $700,000 $6,100,000 1,255 -27%

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.

Photo Credits: Disney ("Encanto"); Sony Pictures ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife"); Angel Studios & Fathom Events ("Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers")