The likely number one for the long weekend is Encanto, the latest from Disney Animation. Directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush (co-directors on Zootopia) along with Charise Castro Smith, the film is about a powerless Colombian girl in a family with magical powers, and like Disney’s Moana, it features original songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda. Disney Animation’s films get consistently great reviews, and Encanto, which features the voice talents of Stephanie Beatriz and John Leguizamo, carries on the tradition with 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Animated films are a mainstay of Thanksgiving weekend, and this is especially true for Disney, which, if you include Pixar’s films, holds eight of the ten top Thanksgiving openers ever. Expectations are more muted for Encanto’s opening, though it will likely become the year’s best grossing family offering so far. If it has word of mouth as strong as the reviews, it is well positioned to play long through the holidays, especially as there is little direct competition until Sing 2 on Christmas. Encanto is also opening in much of the world this week, though there’s no word yet on a China release.
The long running Resident Evil series is back after a five year wait with Screen Gems’ reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. The new film hews closer to the video games than the previous series did in terms of both style and story, adapting the plot of the first two games. Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Strangers: Prey at Night) writes and directs and Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, and Neal McDonough star. Less than a dozen reviews are in right now, but the 44% Rotten Tomatoes score it currently has would make it the best reviewed film in the franchise.
The previous Resident Evil series, which had six films directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich, has never been a massive grosser in the U.S., but it has progressively grown larger worldwide. 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth in the series, was the biggest domestic grosser with $60.1 million, and it was also the first film in the series to top $100 million internationally, besting the third film’s $97 million international cume with a whopping $240 million overseas. The follow-up Resident Evil: Retribution dipped to $42.3 million domestic and $197.8 million abroad, and the series finale Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was the lowest grossing yet in the U.S. with $26.8 million while breaking the series record internationally with $285.4 million. We’ll find out whether or not Welcome to Raccoon City can revive the franchise in the U.S., but the bigger question is if the film retains the series’ international audience.
Another wildcard this weekend is the star-studded House of Gucci from Ridley Scott and United Artists. It is the second film for Scott in recent months, and while The Last Duel was a non-starter which tapped out at $10.8 million, a fate similar to most dramas this year, House of Gucci just may have what it takes to break out. We’re seeing heavy interest on IMDb for the lurid tale of the iconic Italian fashion family empire which stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek. As one of the season’s Oscar hopefuls it could play long, though right now the reviews are mixed but leaning positive (65% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Another awards contender is the new Paul Thomas Anderson film Licorice Pizza, opening in a four theater New York and LA launch on Friday, with a wide release coming on Christmas. The coming-of-age film is set in the San Fernando Valley in the '70s and stars Alana Haim (from the music group Haim) and Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), both making their film debuts. They are supported by Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Maya Rudolph, and Benny Safdie. The critical reception is unsurprisingly strong (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) given Anderson’s track record.