‘Encanto’ Enchants Thanksgiving Box Office With $40.3 Million Bow; ‘House of Gucci’, ‘Resident Evil’ Open In Top 5 As ‘Licorice Pizza’ Sets Indie Record
The nation’s multiplexes were as crowded as Thanksgiving tables as four new releases battled for a piece of the box-office pie over the five-day holiday weekend. As expected, Disney’s latest animated offering, Encanto, won the festive frame, debuting in the top spot with a $40.3 million bow. Meanwhile, United Artists’ star-studded House of Gucci entered the charts in third place with $21.8 million and Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City finished in fifth with $8.8 million as Paul Thomas Anderson’s buzzy indie, Licorice Pizza, set a new pandemic-era specialty-release record with a supersized $84,000 per-screen-average.

Normally a period when tryptophan-dazed families flock to theaters in droves, the five-day Thanksgiving window has been anything but normal since the arrival of the COVID virus. But at least this year’s ticket sales signaled a significant rebound from 2020’s disastrous holiday frame—even if the marketplace still hasn’t quite returned to the pre-pandemic norm. Disney, which chose to sit out last turkey day, got back in the holiday spirit trying to repeat the success of its previous kid-friendly Thanksgiving smashes: 2019’s Frozen II, 2018’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, 2017’s Coco, and 2016’s Moana. And the studio’s latest, Encanto, didn’t quite match those blockbuster predecessors, it did manage to debut in the top spot with relative ease.

The PG-rated movie about a family living in a magical mountain village in Colombia featuring the voice of Stephanie Beatriz and songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda scored with critics and audiences alike, earning a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a straight ‘A’ grade from CinemaScore. And its first-place finish marks the best opening for an animated film since the pandemic began. The film took in $27 million over the three-day weekend and $40.3 million since Wednesday. Playing in 3,980 theaters, Encanto scored a $6,783 per-screen average. Overseas, it tacked on another $29.3 million (not including China, where it has not debuted yet), bringing its five-day cumulative worldwide total to $69.6 million.

Finishing in the runner-up spot was Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife with $24.5 million over the weekend and just a hair under $35.3 million during the five-day frame. The fourth and latest entry in the specter-hunting franchise starring Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, and a few old, familiar faces in cameo roles, slipped a very respectable -44.3% from last weekend and earned a $5,677 per-screen average in 4,315 locations. After two weeks, the PG-13-rated title has scared up $87.8 million domestically and another $28 million from abroad. Its two-week global cume now stands at $115.8 million.

In third place was United Artists’ House of Gucci, which pulled in $14.2 million over the weekend and $21.8 million over the five-day period. The R-rated dysfunctional family drama tracing the downfall of the renowned Italian fashion dynasty and starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, and Jeremy Irons, scored mixed reviews from critics and currently has an underwhelming 61% barely-fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, audiences were drawn to the dastardly deeds of the rich and famous, giving the rookie $4,092 per-screen average in 3,477 theaters—especially impressive considering the dismal fates of such recent adult-oriented dramas as The Many Saints of Newark. So far, House of Gucci has racked up $12.9 million from overseas, bringing its worldwide box-office tally to $34.7 million.

In fourth place was Disney’s Eternals, which stacked $7.9 million over the weekend and $11.4 million over the five-day extended session. The PG-13-rated Marvel tentpole, which stars Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, and Richard Madden, fell -28.7% from the previous weekend, playing in 3,165 theaters and scoring a $2,496 per-screen average. After four weeks, Eternals has drawn $150.6 million domestically and another $217.8 million from foreign markets, bringing its current worldwide gross to $368.4 million.

Rounding out the Top Five was Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, which debuted to just under $5.3 million over the weekend and to $8.8 million in its first five days. The R-rated reboot of the six-film franchise based on the popular video game series stiffed with critics (no shocker there), earning a 24% green splat on Rotten Tomatoes. Raccoon City managed a $1,881 per-screen average at 2,803 locations and reaped another $5.1 million from overseas, bringing its first-week worldwide haul to $13.9 million.

Meanwhile, in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming-of-age awards hopeful Licorice Pizza shattered the previous pandemic-era record for the best first-week performance of an indie film, amassing a staggering $84,000 per-screen average out of the gate. That eye-popping stat was more than triple what the previous record holder, C'mon C'mon, racked up just last weekend. The R-rated film set in the California’s San Fernando Valley during the freewheeling ‘70s stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), Bradley Cooper, and Sean Penn. Licorice Pizza opened on Friday and earned $336,000. It will expand nationwide on Christmas day.