By Tim Briody
November 26, 2017
Thanksgiving weekend is here and our big battle for the weekend is our now standard Disney/Pixar release in the form of Coco going against the second weekend of Justice League, which is rapidly becoming a worst case scenario situation at the box office.
Since the runaway success of Frozen in 2013, we’ve now seen a Thanksgiving release each of the last three years by Disney, two coming from Pixar. 2015’s The Good Dinosaur was a rare miss, topping out at $123 million, but Moana crushed it, not quite to Frozen levels, but $248.7 million was a solid run. Now Pixar is back with Coco, a Day of the Dead themed film that released in Mexico a month ahead of the domestic release and already became the highest grossing film of all time there. With outstanding reviews (since it’s not a Cars sequel), it was a no-brainer to lead the box office through the holiday weekend.
Coco is indeed the top film for the weekend with $49 million from Friday to Sunday and $71.1 million over the five-day holiday period. That’s a fine total, even if it’s less than the $82 million Moana took in over the same period last year. Coco, with its lack of The Rock and Lin-Manuel Miranda penned tunes, is slightly tougher sell than than Moana, but it’s still a strong start. Yes, it’s on the lower end of the Pixar spectrum when it comes to opening weekends, but it did earn $22 million in its first two holiday powered days. It’ll be fine.
The important question now with Disney’s Thanksgiving releases is whether they can hold for a few weeks to make it to late December. Frozen is the poster child for this, of course; after the traditional post-Thanksgiving drop, Frozen held on well enough to stay relevant over the holiday box office boost, which culminated with it being the #1 movie over New Year’s weekend as it turned its $93 million start into $400 million. While Coco won’t be a smash to that extent (because of a little indie film called Star Wars), if word-of-mouth can continue to spread (it got an A+ CinemaScore), there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be looking at a total similar to Moana’s $248.7 million.
Down to second is Justice League, and DC has a big problem. The superhero mashup earned $40.7 million over the weekend (and $59.5 million in five days), which is a decline of 57% from last weekend. That’s a total of $171.4 million in two weekends. Here’s the problem. Black Friday is not only a big day for retail outlets, it’s also a big day at the movie theater. While a Friday-to-Friday drop for Justice League was to be expected, the 57% Friday-to-Friday decline was absolutely crushing. Six of the top ten films that were in theaters last weekend saw a Friday-to-Friday increase. The only declines were A Bad Moms Christmas (down 21%, blame that on being four weeks old and dropping some screens), Wonder (down 9%, more on that in a few) and the 57% decline for Justice League. There’s no sugarcoating that one, that’s bad. Per our friends at ERC, last year’s Thanksgiving holdover Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them dropped 39%. If Justice League had pulled that off, it would have won the weekend and we’d be talking a different story.
With next weekend being a traditionally awful weekend at the box office, expect another 50% decline at minimum. That’ll get it to $200 million when you throw in midweek earnings. But $300 million is out of the window and at this rate, Justice League will be a distant memory by the time we get to the point when the big December box office kicks in. Also, if it had any inkling of being a competitor to Star Wars? That’s long gone.
In third we have the surprise hit Wonder, down just 19% from last weekend to $22.3 million and $32.2 million in the Wednesday-to-Sunday period, an amount that nobody would have blinked at if you had predicted as its final gross. Wonder has earned $69.3 million after just two weekends and is a lock for $100 million at this point. This is a big winner for Lionsgate, especially with just a $20 million budget, considering the names involved.