News

'Enchanted' Bewitches Thanksgiving

by Brandon Gray
Amy Adams in Enchanted
November 26, 2007

While leftovers have generally dominated Thanksgiving in recent years, six new wide releases as a whole picked up the slack from relatively weak holdovers during the holiday weekend. Though only three were successful, the six movies, led by Enchanted, grossed about twice as much as the six from last Thanksgiving. The overall box office rebounded from the previous weekend's attendance low point and was slightly less than the same frame last year, but it was still below par for Thanksgiving.

Enchanted garnered $34.4 million on approximately 5,000 screens at 3,730 theaters for a $49.1 million five-day tally. Walt Disney Pictures' fantasy comedy drew the second highest-grossing Thanksgiving debut on record behind Toy Story 2, though it would rank ninth if ticket price inflation is taken into account and it made less than Happy Feet's Thanksgiving holdover last year. Disney now lays claim to the Top Five highest-grossing Thanksgiving openings, which also include Unbreakable, A Bug's Life and the live action 101 Dalmatians remake. The studio has frequently used the holiday to launch major family titles and, while Enchanted isn't quite a return to its Nineties heyday, it was potent by this decade's standards.

Disney traded on its enormous brand equity with Enchanted, in which a Disney animated princess is thrust into the real New York City, gently ribbing its own heritage and explicitly referencing its classic movies in its massive marketing campaign. While some of the mocking made it look like a live action version of the popular Shrek movies, the fun sprang from the culture clash of the fictional and real worlds, a formula that has proven fruitful in such past titles as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam and Elf among others. The studio's exit polling indicated that 53 percent of the audience was under 25 years old and 56 percent were families.

The holiday's other merry choice, This Christmas, was also a hit, packing $18 million on around 2,200 screens at 1,858 theaters for a $26.3 million five-day start. The $13 million family-themed comedy-drama recalled such winning previous movies as The Family Stone and Soul Food in its ads. The dark crime thriller, No Country for Old Men, was the other new wide release to fare well. It expanded to over 1,000 screens at 860 sites and grossed $7.8 million over the weekend, lifting its total to $16.3 million in 17 days.

The other three entries were modest at best. On the low end among major video game adaptations, Hitman grabbed $13.2 million on around 2,800 screens at 2,458 venues for $21.1 million in five days. Sentimental drama August Rush drummed up a soft $9.4 million at 2,310 locations for $13.2 million in five days. Relying mostly on the Stephen King brand name, The Mist drifted in with a faint $8.9 million at 2,423 sites for $12.9 million in five days. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, all of these openings are inflated versus a normal frame, and the weekend after the holiday usually bears this out, when drops of over 50 percent are typical. Five-day Thanksgiving openings often account for well over 40 percent of final grosses.

While key holdovers fell less than 30 percent, last weekend's champion, Beowulf, tumbled 40 percent to $16.5 million. IMAX, though, reported a record second weekend for a Hollywood movie. At 84 locations, the 3D animated action picture was down 15 percent to an estimated $3 million. IMAX now accounts for $8.9 million of Beowulf's $56.6 million ten-day haul.

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