November 23, 2017

Early Thanksgiving Box Office: “Coco” Strong, “Justice League” Struggles, “Roman J Israel” Slow, “Wonder” Solid


The bulk of the week’s openings arrived on Wednesday, and as usual for this weekend they were led by a Disney family attraction.  This year it was COCO (Pixar/Disney), which was more or less on target at $13.2M, down 15% from last year’s Moana and its $15.5M opening day.  That suggests the 5-day weekend will be around $70M, and Coco should be headed for a comfortable $200M+ in the US, just about the same as 2010’s Tangled.  Coco has already done blockbuster business in Mexico, and it remains to be seen how it travels to the rest of the world.

Just as there’s usually a Disney movie the day before Thanksgiving, there’s usually an action blockbuster that had opened the previous Friday, and those pictures typically follow a fairly standard pattern through the 5 days of the holiday.  This year’s entry JUSTICE LEAGUE (RatPac/DC/Warners), however, dropped 1% on Wednesday to $10.5M, significantly worse than 2016’s Fantastic Beasts, which rose 18% on the day before Thanksgiving, as well as the final two Hunger Games (+21%/+20%), let alone Catching Fire (+30%), not to mention the two more front-loaded Twilight installments that preceded those (+8%/+13%).  All of this suggests that Justice League is suffering from the kind of word of mouth that afflicted Batman v Superman, and although the usual 5-day Thanksgiving result would be in the neighborhood of $65M after that Wednesday number, League may end up $5-10M below that.  It’s still hard to see how it can get near $300M in the US.  (Note:  dollar-for-dollar comparisons to Fantastic Beasts neglect to factor in the unfortunate fact that Justice League cost $125M more to produce than the J.K. Rowling epic.)

WONDER (Lionsgate) continues to be the quiet marvel of the season.  It rose 6% on Wednesday to $6M, and could find itself at $70M+ by Sunday, with weeks ahead until the big Christmas movies arrive.  It should easily top $100M before it’s done, which among other things would make it Julia Roberts’s biggest hit since Valentine’s Day in 2010.

THOR: RAGNAROK (Marvel/Disney) had a terrific 14% boost on Wednesday to $4M, and should take in $25M+ over the 5-day holiday, putting it back on track to top $300M in the US.

For better or worse, DADDY’S HOME 2 (Paramount) is considered a family movie, and as such it had a strong 19% Wednesday hike to $2.7M, which could get it to $18M over the holiday.  It still has a chance of getting to $100M in the US, although that would still be down $50M from the first Daddy’s Home.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (20th) climbed 11% on Wednesday to $2.6M, and it should have a $15M 5-day holiday total.  It’s also flirting with $100M in the US, and as the film’s ending already indicated, plans are afoot for the next installment to be a remake of Death On the Nile.

Coco‘s arrival was bad news for THE STAR (Affirm/Sony), which is aimed almost exclusively at Christian families.  Despite the holiday, it only gained 2% on Wednesday to $1.7M, and might get to $11M over the holiday, hoping to reach $40M in the US.

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (H Brothers/STX) is quickly running out of steam, down 16% on Wednesday to under $1M.  It might have a $6M holiday and end up at $70M in the US, down almost 40% from the first Bad Moms.

There were lots of expansions among awards hopefuls, and somewhat surprisingly, the early leader was THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Fox Searchlight), which earned almost $800K at 590 theatres on Wednesday, and could average $6000 per theatre over the Fri-Sun weekend.  That would put it in the same place as Spotlight when that film moved into 598 theatres, on its way to an Oscar win and $45.1M.

LADY BIRD (A24) had its first comparative stumble, going wider than Billboards to 741 theatres, but with a lower $750K Wednesday total.  That suggests a Fri-Sun per-theatre average more like $4000, which resembles Dallas Buyers Club and its average at 666 theatres as it ended up at $27.3M.  Of course, major critics awards over the next few weeks could pull its numbers back up.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. (Columbia/Sony) had no stamina as it moved into wide release at 1648 theatres.  It managed just $750K on Wednesday, and its Fri-Sun per-theatre average may be a mere $2000.

LAST FLAG FLYING (Amazon/Lionsgate) widened on a smaller scale to 94 theatres and may average a dim $1500 per theatre over the Fri-Sun weekend.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (Bleecker Street) had a half-hearted quasi-wide opening at 532 theatres and took in a paltry $200K on Wednesday.  It might average $2000 per-theatre in the Fri-Sun period.

(Note:  no Wednesday box office numbers were reported for the 4-theatre opening of DARKEST HOUR (Focus/Universal) or the expansion of NOVITIATE (Sony Classics).)

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."