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HomeBox OfficeBox Office: Disney's Wish Falters, Opens Third Behind Hunger Games, Napoleon

Box Office: Disney’s Wish Falters, Opens Third Behind Hunger Games, Napoleon

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but as of this weekend, it’s official that the Mouse House has finally run out of steam in terms of a formula that has allowed it to dominate the Thanksgiving family movie weekend for many decades. Going all the way back to 1995 with the original Toy Story, Walt Disney Pictures has been able to release an animated movie that would bring in absolutely enormous family audiences. 2023 is proving to be a real gamechanger for a studio that, for the longest time, couldn’t seem to fail. This weekend, Disney’s latest animated movie, Wish, did exactly that.

Disney opened Wish into 3,900 theaters on Wednesday, while Sony and Apple teamed up to release Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, into 3,500 theaters, both receiving afternoon previews on Tuesdays. Although Napoleon beat Wish in Tuesday previews by $3 million to $1.3 million, Wish seemed to pull ahead on Wednesday by $8.3 million to Napoleon‘s $7.7 million. Considering how well family films do on the weekend following Thanksgiving Thursday, it was a foregone conclusion that Wish would continue to bring in more business with each day. That isn’t what happened.

By Thursday, both new movies fell behind Lionsgate‘s franchise prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which also won Black Friday by a larger margin with $11.4 million to the $8.4 million made by Napoleon and $8 million made by Wish. That showing was pretty eye-opening, especially seeing that last week’s DreamWorks Animation sequel, Trolls Band Together, wasn’t too far behind in fourth place with $7.1 million. It’s not uncommon for returning movies like Hunger Games and Trolls to maintain business over the busy holiday week, but the latter seemed to directly impact the success of Disney’s Wish.

As of Sunday, The Hunger Games had won the weekend with an estimated $28.8 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, a drop of 35% from last weekend, and $42 million over the five-day extended holiday to bring its domestic total to $98.4 million.

Scott’s historic epic, Napoleon, came into the weekend with mixed-positive reviews, but also probably well aware that movies geared towards older guys don’t always do huge business over what’s seen as a holiday for family. After making $12.1 million between Tuesday and Thursday, Napoleon grossed another estimated $20.4 million over the three-day weekend for a five-day domestic start of $32.5 million. This far surpassed the opening for Scott’s House of Gucci in 2021, which opened with $22 million in the same holiday frame.

Napoleon did even better overseas with $46.3 million grossed in its first five days, doing especially well in Europe, which brought in $33 million of that amount, led by $6.6 million as the #1 film in the UK, the same in France with $5.6 million, followed by German ($3.4 million), Spain ($3.3 million), and Italy $3.1 million. Mexico led Latin American regions with $2.9 million, where Napoleon was also the top movie, followed by Brazil with $1.2 million. Scott’s movie opened in Australia with $2.6 million and made another $2.3 million in the Middle East.

A scene from Wish (Disney)

That left third place for Wish with just $19.5 million, based on studio estimates, which brought its own five-day opening to $31.7 million. Of course, numbers can change between Sunday morning and Monday afternoon when actual box office is reported, but even taking second place would be seen as a disappointment for Disney, considering how many hits they’ve had over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Even 2021’s Encanto, which opened with $40.6 million over the five-day Thanksgiving week, had to contend with newer COVID strains even before a vaccine had rolled out for younger kids. That one ended up not making $100 million domestically, but it had that COVID asterisk to keep heads from rolling. Wish, on the other hand, just didn’t seem to connect with critics, with just 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, although the movie’s “A-” CinemaScore seemed to show that audiences liked it more. We’ll have to see how it holds up without a new family animated movie until closer to Christmas.

One of the movies that probably hurt Wish the most was the aforementioned Trolls Band Together, which had a pretty sizable 45% drop in its second weekend to fourth place with $17.5 million and $25.3 million for the five-day week. It has grossed $64.5 million domestically so far, bolstered by another $81.4 million made overseas, for a global total of $145.8 million.

Even though Eli Roth‘s seasonal horror-slasher Thanksgiving would seem like something that wouldn’t last much longer once the holiday had passed, it still took fifth place with an estimated $7.3 million (down 29%) this weekend and $11.3 million for the five-day Thanksgiving week, bringing its domestic cume to $24.2 million.

The poor showing for Wish only compounded the fact that Disney currently has its biggest Marvel Studios bomb to date, as The Marvels lost 960 theaters in its third weekend, also unheard of for a studio that regularly makes deals to keep their movies in theaters for many weeks. This weekend, The Marvels dropped to sixth place with $6.4 million (down 36%), $9.2 million over the five days, and $76.8 million total domestic. The movie did slightly better overseas, with another $7.9 million added this weekend to bring its global total to $187.1 million.

Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers was able to hold onto seventh place with $2.8 million, one of the few movies to be up from last weekend, as it added another 123 theaters and brought its domestic total to $12.9 million, even as it was announced to be available on VOD starting Tuesday.

Eighth place went to Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour with another $2.3 million, down a modest 16%, to bring its domestic total to $178.3 million, as one of 2023’s bigger hits. It was followed in ninth place by Universal‘s Five Nights at Freddy‘s holding onto the top 10 with another $1.8 million and $136.2 million domestic.

Amazon MGM expanded Emerald Fennell‘s dark comedic thriller, Saltburn, starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Archie MadekweRosamund Pike, and Richard E. Grant, into 1,566 theaters after platforming last weekend. It managed to just sneak into the top 10 with $1.7 million over the three-day weekend and $2.7 million including Weds. and Thurs, bringing its domestic total to $3.1 million. Top markets were in the coastal regions of the United States with bigger cities remaining the eclectic movie’s top markets. Like NapoleonSaltburn also received a poor “B-” CinemaScore, despite slightly better reviews.

A bunch of new movies will open this Friday but the one to watch will be Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, AMC Distribution‘s second high-profile concert film that probably won’t do as well as Swift’s The Eras Tour but should be further proof that music fans will flock to theaters to see their favorite artists on screen.

Weekend Box Office

Rank Entry Distributor Revenue Theater Count Total Revenue
1 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Lionsgate $29,042,517 3,776 $98,601,297
2 Napoleon Sony Pictures $20,638,887 3,500 $32,752,716
3 Wish Walt Disney $19,698,228 3,900 $31,609,340
4 Trolls Band Together Universal $17,809,660 3,893 $64,763,725
5 Thanksgiving Sony Pictures $7,070,793 3,204 $24,000,325
6 The Marvels Walt Disney $6,325,243 3,070 $76,755,559
7 The Holdovers Focus Features $2,798,235 1,601 $12,931,320
8 TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR AMC Theatres Distribution $2,307,857 946 $178,243,751
9 Saltburn Amazon Studios $1,860,648 1,566 $3,222,673
10 Five Nights at Freddy’s Universal $1,729,155 1,754 $136,184,280
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.


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