Thanksgiving box office tops $142 million as moviegoers return for ‘Encanto,’ ‘House of Gucci’

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  • Over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, moviegoers in the US and Canada spent nearly $142 million on tickets to movies such as “Encanto,” “House of Gucci” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”
  • It’s not as strong as in years past, where ticket sales often top $250 million, but shows consumer confidence to return to theaters amid the pandemic.

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While the Thanksgiving box office generally didn’t deliver the strong results that the movie theater industry had expected over the past decade, ticket sales for new titles gave confidence that a recovery was well underway.

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According to comScore data, over the five-day holiday weekend, moviegoers in the US and Canada spent nearly $142 million on tickets to movies like “Encanto,” “House of Gucci” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.”

It’s not as strong as in years past, where ticket sales often top $250 million, but it continues to demonstrate consumer confidence to return to theaters amid the pandemic.

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“This weekend again showed how the box office continues to take baby steps in the rebound of the long-term pandemic,” said Sean Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Many consumers remain cautious, especially with newer COVID variants hitting the headlines.”

Disney’s “Encanto” topped the box office, earning an estimated $40.3 million between Wednesday and Sunday. Although that figure is much smaller than Disney’s recent Thanksgiving releases, including “Frozen II,” which grossed $130 million over the course of a five-day frame, it’s a positive for the film industry. That families are feeling more comfortable returning to theatres.

Family-friendly films, especially animated films, have largely been vulnerable during the pandemic, as parents have kept their children at home. With the increase in vaccination rates and the recent approval of a vaccine for children aged five to 11 years, it is expected to see a significant improvement at the box office in the coming months.

“House of Gucci”, distributed by MGM and Universal, grossed an estimated $21.2 million domestically during the long weekend. Aimed at older audiences, some box office analysts were concerned that the film would not make significant gains over the Thanksgiving period. During the pandemic, the return of older audiences to theaters has been the slowest and their absence has been felt for titles such as “No Time to Die” and “The Last Duel”.

“‘Encanto’ and ‘House of Gucci’ have each made great strides toward bringing back families and adult moviegoers, respectively, without the draw of franchise titles,” Robbins said. “‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ also began to show its ability to stay power over the holiday season.”

Released a week before Thanksgiving, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” added an estimated $35.2 million to its domestic tally. The film is expected to generate close to $90 million in ticket sales in the US and Canada for its first two weeks in theaters.

“In any given year, the Thanksgiving frame is a barometer for measuring how the final weeks of the box-office will play out,” said Paul Dergarbedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “The industry should be greatly encouraged by consumers’ strong support of the big screen experience going into the holidays and into 2022.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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