'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' & 'Encanto' To Battle For The Top Spot In Quiet Post-Thanksgiving Weekend
After a busy Thanksgiving weekend which saw a solid-for-2021 $142 million five-day gross, things are taking a bit of a breather this weekend. The only new wide release is Focus’ specialty film Wolf, which is unlikely to displace any of last week’s box office winners. Expect a repeat of last weekend with Encanto, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and House of Gucci remaining in the top three, and we’ll see how well they hold as we await some of the year’s most anticipated films in the coming weeks. West Side Story, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Nightmare Alley, The Matrix Resurrections, and other big ticket holiday and award season films are just around the corner and will hopefully bring the pandemic-era box office to new heights.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Encanto will duke it out for the top spot this weekend. Encanto was in the lead last weekend, with $40.5 million compared to Ghostbusters’ $35 million for the five-day, and the grosses were even tighter over the three-day, with Encanto ahead $27.2 million to $24.2 million. Ghostbusters, which should cross $100 million this weekend, dropped only 45% in its second weekend, and if it keeps it up we could see the films swap places, though Encanto’s strong word of mouth (A Cinemascore, 91% on Rotten Tomatoes) may lead to a strong hold as well despite an underwhelming opening by Disney Animation standards. House of Gucci has already become the year’s best-grossing drama after only one week, and how it holds should give us a sense of how durable the adult market is at the moment.

The weekend’s sole wide newcomer Wolf was picked up by Focus last fall and premiered this year at Toronto. The Irish-Polish co-production is directed by Nathalie Biancheri and stars George MacKay (in his first theatrical release since starring in 1917), Lily-Rose Depp, and Paddy Considine. The film is about an intense romance that blossoms between two people who are patients at a clinic for species dysphoria, which is the belief that one is actually a member of another species. Only a limited number of reviews are in and they are split right down the middle as of now (50% on Rotten Tomatoes), but many critics are praising the film’s unique charms. Biancheri previously directed the little seen but well reviewed Nocturnal (93% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Notable among the weekend’s many limited release titles is Benedetta, the latest from Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven. IFC is distributing the French-language film based on the true story of Benedetta Carlini, a 17th century lesbian nun. Benedetta, which stars Virginie Efira, Lambert Wilson, Daphne Patakia, and Charlotte Rampling, played in competition at Cannes and has met great reviews (84% on Rotten Tomatoes). The film, which will also be available on VOD, is the latest in a slate of European arthouse films from Verhoeven, who began his career in the Netherlands before becoming a major Hollywood director with films such as Robocop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers. Verhoeven’s previous film Elle was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and grossed $2.3 million in the U.S.

RLJE’s Silent Night is also opening in limited in addition to playing on AMC+. The British dark comedy about a family gathering for the holidays as the world is ending comes from first time feature writer/director Camille Griffin and stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Roman Griffin Davis, Annabelle Wallis, and Lily-Rose Depp who has a doubleheader this weekend. The Matthew Vaughn produced film premiered at Toronto and has received mostly positive reviews (69% on Rotten Tomatoes).

True to the Game 3 opens via Faith Media Distribution. The indie urban crime series stars Columbus Short, Vivica A. Fox, and Erica Peeples and is based on the bestselling books by Teri Woods. The first two films in the series have grossed a combined total of around $2.4 million and have been the top grossers for the distributor.

Also opening is Funimation’s anime Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria Of A Starless Night. The previous film in the series, Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale, grossed $1.5 million.

With no major new movies opening, IMAX is able to bring back Dune after showing Ghostbusters: Afterlife for two weeks. Dune, which just crossed $100 million and has passed Godzilla vs. Kong as WB’s biggest film of the year, has made around 20% of its domestic gross from IMAX.