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Moviegoers feasted on a wide variety of offerings at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday in a needed boost for Hollywood and theater owners after a terrible November.
Walt Disney Animation’s all-audience tentpole Frozen 2 led the bounty with a record-shattering $123.7 million for the Wednesday-to-Sunday stretch, easily besting the $109.9 million grossed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire during the same corridor in 2013. (Most observers believe Frozen 2 will come in at $126 million or higher when final numbers are tallied on Monday.)
Frozen 2 marks the biggest Thanksgiving showing ever for a Disney animated film after taking the crown from the first Frozen, which earned $93.7 million for the five days in 2013. The follow-up’s performance is all the more impressive given that it opened last weekend, while Frozen didn’t unfurl nationwide until the Wednesday before the holiday.
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, Frozen 2 finished Sunday with a domestic total of $287.6 million and a staggering $738.6 million cume globally, including a second-weekend foreign gross of $163.8 million. The sequel — which will soon cross $1 billion — has already surpassed the total lifetime gross of Frozen in 11 markets, including China, where it has earned a huge $90.5 million to date.
After Frozen 2, the bounty was fueled by original, mid-range films that studios are wary to make in the age of streaming. Heading into the weekend, year-to-date revenue was down 7 percent domestically after a particularly poor November, and is now down 5.6 percent.
Overall Thanksgiving revenue came in at a hearty $264 million, one of the best showings of all time even while it was down roughly 16 percent from 2018’s record $315 million, which was led by Ralph Breaks the Internet, Creed II and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out was a huge Thanksgiving winner, grossing $41.7 million for the five days — nearly double expectations for the pic (the number includes roughly $3.7 million in preview grosses and sneaks).
From Lionsgate and MRC, the star-studded whodunnit turned in one of the top holiday performances in years for a live-action original film. Nearly three-quarters of ticket buyers were 25 years of age and older, including 46 percent who were 35 and older, according to PostTrak.
Overseas, Knives Out earned a pleasing $28.3 million for an early global total of $70 million, including a China debut of $13.5 million. That was followed by $3.8 million in the U.K., where the film received the widest release in Lionsgate’s history (632 locations).
Knives Out — which centers on a family gathering that goes horribly wrong after the clan’s patriarch turns up dead — stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell and Christopher Plummer. Johnson and Ram Bergman’s T-Street produced the $40 million film.
“Rian Johnson created a fresh and original crowd-pleasing film with Knives Out and, along with Ram Bergman, assembled a stellar cast, and we are thrilled to see it connecting with audiences,” MRC film co-presidents Brye Adler and Jonathan Golfman said in a statement. (MRC shares a parent company, Valence Media, with The Hollywood Reporter.)
Universal and Makeready’s Queen & Slim likewise overperformed in its debut with $15.8 million for the five days. Both Knives Out and Queen & Slim received A- CinemaScores from audiences, as well as strong reviews and exits on PostTrak.
Queen & Slim, which cost under $20 million to produce, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a couple on their first date who are forced to go on the run after a traffic stop gone wrong. The R-rated adult drama was helmed by acclaimed music video director Melina Matsoukas in her feature directorial debut from a script by Lena Waithe.
“The filmmakers have a unique, strong voice, and you have two very special actors in Daniel and Jodie,” says Universal distribution chief Jim Orr.
Queen & Slim skewed slightly female (54 percent), while nearly 60 percent of ticket buyers were ages 18 to 34. The pic performed best on the East Coast and in the South, while also overperforming in such markets as Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Ford v Ferrari, from Fox/Disney, came in third with $19 million for a domestic cume of $81 million and $143.3 million globally.
Sony’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood took in $17.3 million for the five days for a 10-day North American total of $34.3 million.
Among other holdovers, 21 Bridges collected $7.9 million for the five days for a 10-day domestic total of $20.5 million for STX Entertainment.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features and Participant’s Dark Waters expanded to a total of 94 locations in its second weekend, grossing $860,000 for the five days for a cume of $977,000. The pic is set to roll out nationwide next weekend.
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