Thanksgiving was once a film feast. This yr? Slim pickings

New York
CNN Enterprise

Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally provided a cornucopia of movies, letting moviegoers get out of the home and sit back after consuming copious quantities of turkey, mashed potatoes and pie.

However this yr the film menu is fairly sparse. The North American field workplace has few new movies this weekend which are seemingly to attract tons of moviegoers.

“Strange World,” Disney’s new animated movie a few household of explorers starring the voice work of Jake Gyllenhaal, is projected to herald solely about $30 million domestically over the five-day vacation weekend — a wonderful, albeit muted, opening. However early field workplace outcomes from Wednesday and Thursday point out that “Strange World” is more likely to are available beneath even these preliminary expectations.

One other Disney movie, Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” is now in its second week and is ready to win the vacation weekend with round $40 million domestically. It’s made $552 million thus far.

The slate is a far cry from Thanksgiving weekends of yore. Thanksgiving is normally one of many busiest occasions of the yr for film theaters, as in some ways it kicks off the worthwhile vacation field workplace season — just like how Memorial Day weekend ushers in the summertime. For instance, movies like “Creed,” “Moana,” and “Knives Out” opened on Thanksgiving weekends and did effectively.

So what occurred to Thanksgiving this yr? As soon as once more, blame Covid.

“The impact of the pandemic, both in terms of production disruption and release-calendar shuffling, has left the table fairly light on cinematic entrees,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore

(SCOR), informed CNN Enterprise.

Provide chain points in Hollywood have been hampering film productions all yr lengthy. Summer time ticket gross sales throughout the summer season have been robust because of hits like “Top Gun: Maverick,” however huge new releases have been arduous to seek out in current months. “Wakanda Forever” is one other notable exception, having notched a file $180 million earlier this month, however in any other case it’s been fairly quiet on the cineplex.

The dearth of massive new releases helps clarify why the home field workplace is down 32% thus far this yr in comparison with 2019 earlier than the pandemic. The variety of releases on 2,000 screens or extra is down by 36%.

Holidays like Thanksgiving are essential for theaters as a result of “they act as a calendar-based touchstone,” which audiences have come to affiliate as a “prime time of sorts,” Dergarabedian added.

“This is when the biggest and brightest movies are in the marketplace, and Thanksgiving is certainly one of those timeframes that has developed that type of identity over the years,” he stated. “It would be a shame for Thanksgiving to wind up as another marginalized holiday period, like Labor Day weekend.”

However the 2022 holidays aren’t over but, and there’s hope on the horizon because of James Cameron and his sequel to “Avatar” — the largest blockbuster in cinema historical past.

“Avatar: The Way of Water,” which opens on December 16, might unleash a wave of moviegoing to assist the business finish the yr on a excessive notice. The movie Cameron’s first for the reason that 2009 unique, and there are some questions on whether or not this very costly movie can discover entice the identical sort of viewers. Others argue: One bets in opposition to the director of “Titanic,” “The Terminator” and “Aliens” at their very own peril.

As for Thanksgiving, Dergarabedian hopes that because the theater business normalizes, the vacation will make a comeback.

“This is likely a temporary shift and a result of the challenging marketplace dynamics over the past two and a half years,” he stated. “Thanksgiving will rise again as one of the most important moviegoing weeks of the year.”