Buoyed by two high-profile releases, the film industry just had one of its best weekends of the year.
Disney's (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report family film Encanto had $27 million in ticket sales over the weekend and $40.4 across the five-day holiday, according to MarketWatch. Ridley Scott’s drama House of Gucci, which was released by United Artists, took in $14.2 million over the weekend and $21.8 across the holiday spread.
Though that’s not quite a return to pre-pandemic ticket sales, it’s at least an encouraging sign.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend has traditionally been one of the biggest of the year for Hollywood, as families will begin looking for something to watch together. Ticket sales were around $142 million this past weekend, less than half of the $250 million haul that is typical for the season, but also seven times better than Thanksgiving 2020, when many theaters were still closed, according to Comcast. The box office total for the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend was $264 million.
Dramas aimed at adults and cartoons aimed at children and families were two of the hardest-hit film genres during the pandemic. The hope is that as more children and adults get vaccinated, they will begin to return to theaters.
Earlier this year, Disney released the animated feature Luca straight to its streaming service Disney+, while The Last Duel, Ridley Scott’s first film of 2021, took in a mere $4.8 million when it launched in October.
It’s been a slow return to theaters this year, as a few tentpole films such as No Time To Die, the latest James Bond film, debuted to $56 million and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings took in $71.4 million, a Labor Day record. However, many other non-blockbuster films have struggled to find audiences or were released direct to streaming.
The film industry no doubt hopes that this past weekend will prove to be a turning point, but with the recent discovery of the Omicron variant, audiences might soon become reluctant once again to return to theaters.
Shares of Disney on Monday slipped by 0.3% to $147.69 at last check.