Thanks to a plethora of different yet appealing choices, audiences turned out in droves for a huge Thanksgiving weekend. Mockingjay Part 2 had a fairly good hold, Creed surpassed expectations in a huge way, The Good Dinosaur took the lowest Pixar debut ever and Victor Frankenstein was one for the record books.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 took in a strong $75.7M over the five day Holiday weekend, which represented a drop of about 25%. That’s a much stronger hold than Catching Fire (roughly 32%), and even Mockingjay Part 1, which also dropped around a third of its opening weekend. This stronger hold shows that while it was clearly less of an event film, audiences still had some interest – just not right away. The film is likely going to crash hard next weekend (as post Thanksgiving weekends typically do) with the only new release being Krampus, which may end up being a bit of a sleeper hit thanks to a strong marketing campaign.
The highest of the new releases was Pixars The Good Dinosaur, but unfortunately it fell fairly short of expectations. The film took in just $39.1M over the three day weekend, and had a five day total of $55.5M. In comparison, Tangled did $68.7M, Frozen did $93.5M and even Big Hero 6 was able to do $56M in just a regular three day weekend. Pixars other release of the year, Inside Out, also did far better, grossing $90.4M in its opening back in June. Now obviously this was never expected to do a $90M weekend, but grossing under $60M for the five day weekend is not a good sign. In fact, this is actually Pixars lowest opening when adjusted for inflation. Before, that record was held by the original Toy Story, which opened to $55M in its opening and $74M over the five day weekend. Granted, most Pixar films since then have been summer releases instead of Holiday, but having such a massive drop in grosses is simply baffling. The Good Dinosaur will struggle to gross even half of what Inside Out did, and topping Cars 2 (the lowest grossing Pixar film) is pretty much an impossible task.
The big surprise of the weekend, however, had to be boxing drama Creed, the follow up to the long running and very beloved Rocky franchise. The film took in a fantastic $42.6M over the holiday weekend, far outpacing any reasonable expectations. The fantastic 93% on Rotten Tomatoes likely helped, but also an admittedly clever way to get a new, fresh face in the main role while still keeping Sylvester Stallone in his most famous role. The film has fantastic word of mouth (as most sports dramas do) with an A cinemascore and plenty of Oscar buzz about Stallone’s performance. This could potentially propel the film to a $100M domestic gross. It has yet to open overseas, but this doesn’t exactly seem like something that would make much money outside of the US. There are definitely a few reasons as to why the film did so good, one being its interesting premise along with the return of Rocky, as well as it seeming like an excellent choice for a holiday release, something that couples or fans of the originals could go to, which propelled this low budget sleeper hit to one of the biggest surprises of the year.
Unfortunately, there was one other new release, and I’d be willing to bet that none of you saw it. Victor Frankenstein flopped hard with just $3.4M over the five day weekend, giving it a per theater average of $1,237. Its whopping 12th place debut was far worse than anyone had expected, with my expectations being about the lowest. Even they were far more than this film actually ended up doing, and its C cinemascore as well as a slew of other options guarantees that this film is going to disappear without a trace.
As far as holdovers go, Spectre was solid with $12.8M over the three day weekend, bringing its total up to $176M. The Peanuts Movie was able to hold well even with direct competition from The Good Dinosaur, and grossed $9.7M over the weekend. The franchises connection to holidays likely helped some older family audiences come out this weekend, which is likely why it didn’t get crushed by the release of a Pixar film.
As far as the limited release section goes, Thanksgiving is always a popular time, and this year was no exception. Spotlight expanded into 897 theaters (up from around 600 last weekend) and grossed a solid $4.49M over the weekend. That brings its domestic total up to a solid $12M. Brookyln grossed $3.8M from 845 theaters, giving it a solid per theater average of $4,535. The biggest new release, however, was The Danish Girl. The heavily controversial biopic took in a strong $185,000 from just 4 theaters, for a great per theater average of $46K. For obvious reasons, this won’t do great business with a mainstream audience, and it would be surprising if this ever played in more than a few hundred theaters.
Finally, The Martian opened to an excellent $50M in China, which allowed it to finally cross the $500M mark worldwide, giving it a new total of $545M. Considering that the premise didn’t seem as immediately interesting as something like Gravity or Interstellar, it’s safe to say that it’s time for me to dust off my “I Was Wrong” hat once more. Obviously films are very front loaded in China, but there is still a strong chance that it can top $600M by the end of its run.