Thanksgiving Weekend Box Office Eyes Pandemic Plummet

With just one major new release, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, hitting theaters over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, observers contend the traditional box office bonanza is set to disappoint this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, movies such as Disney’s Frozen II and Lionsgate’s Knives Out helped the Thanksgiving box office generate a healthy $263 million in ticket sales, still down almost 17% from 2018’s record North American haul of $315 million. This year, The Croods: A New Age is projected to generate no more than $15 million. The film tallied $1.8 million on opening day Nov. 25, according to Box Office Mojo.

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“The pandemic has negatively impacted every traditionally important box office holiday from Memorial weekend to Fourth of July, and even sidelined the almighty summer movie season, so it’s no surprise that Thanksgiving would be impacted as well,” Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian said in a statement. “Usually, it’s a time frame when family and friends get together and historically it’s been a big weekend. This year it’s literally going to be a turkey.”

Indeed, the Thanksgiving weekend has typically generated around $250 million in annual revenue over the past decade, with just 2011 and 2014 falling slightly below the average. In 2020, the last major box office period, Labor Day weekend, saw revenue plummet 76.5% to $28.4 million despite the opening of Christopher Nolan’s espionage thriller Tenet.

With multiple virus vaccines reportedly readying for distribution, the Hollywood box office, and large group gatherings, could return to some sense of normalcy in 2021. A new reality that includes premium VOD. Universal is set to release The Croods: A New Age into homes as early as Dec. 11 should it fail to generate $50 million at the box office as part of a shortened theatrical window agreement the studio has with exhibitors AMC Theatres and Cinemark.

“I do think in the future, Thanksgiving will indeed return to prominence as one of the most important holidays, both symbolically and financially for movie theaters,” Dergarabedian said.

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