Thanksgiving weekend is normally one of the top-grossing dates. This year, not so much. The debut of two $200 million productions and a second weekend of adequate performance from the “Hunger Games” prequel propelled holiday totals to mediocrity. As 2023 reaches its end stages, the absence of momentum after late-summer fireworks continues to depress results.

“Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” (Lionsgate) repeated as #1 with $28.3 million. That’s down 37 percent from its opening. The last of the original “Hunger” franchise films in 2015 dropped 49 percent, also post-Thanksgiving, but that was after a $100 million-plus debut. The prequel curently stands just under $100 million.


Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” (Sony) surprisingly topped Disney Animation’s “Wish,” both Wednesday openers. However, each grossed around $20 million for the weekend and $32 million for five days —hardly stellar, considering the expense of each.

All told, the weekend grossed about $115 million. That represents an improvement from 2022’s $94 million, but Thanksgiving weekend usually ranks among a year’s top 10. For 2023, it won’t make the top 20.

“Napoleon” is the second of Apple production to receive a wide studio release ahead of streaming after Paramount handled Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Results are comparable: With a Friday start, “Killers” grossed $28.2 million after four days for a #2 debut.

“Napoleon” reviews were weaker with a 64 Metacritic score and a B- Cinemascore. (“Killers” received an A-.) However, its relative strength may stem from the reliable audience for military-themed films — and a director known for delivering high-impact action films in any genre. Worldwide, it debuted to $79 million.

“Wish” is an improvement over the awful start for Disney Animation’s 2022 “Strange World,” which saw $19 million over five days. By any other standards of Disney holiday animated titles, “Wish” is a disaster. The 2021 “Encanto” grossed $41 million for five days and didn’t reach $100 million in its domestic run.

“Wish” did get an A- Cinemascore, so perhaps there’s a chance it can sustain some interest through Christmas as these releases typically do. However, with a five-day opening it grossed slightly more than “Trolls Band Together” (Universal) did in its debut.

“Wish” is only one of Disney’s problems. The third weekend of “The Marvels” fell to #6, behind the second weekend of Eli Roth’s low-budget horror “Thanksgiving” (Sony). “Marvels” grossed $6.4 million for $77 million through its third weekend. Last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” grossed $44 million in its third weekend. Disney films alone will account for a shortfall over $500 million shortfall in 2023 projections.

Two expanding initial platform successes placed in the top 10. Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” unexpectedly increased 2 percent this week (with slightly more theaters) for #7, $2.75 million and just under $13 million through five weekends. Amazon’s “Saltburn” (MGM) took #10, but with a disappointing $1.7 million (just over $1,100 per theater; the five days grossed $2.7 million). A B- Cinemascore suggests this will be the Emerald Fennell title’s high-end result.

Bradley Cooper in "Maestro"
“Maestro” Jason McDonald/Netflix

Netflix treats its grosses like nuclear secrets, a policy that will only hurt Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro.” Among its initial theaters, all in New York or Los Angeles theaters, are their own Paris and Egyptian. Based on spot-checking seating sales and other sources from five of their apparent eight total theaters, a very rough guess has it at somewhere around $200,000 for the weekend ($40,000 per-theater average), $300,000 for five days ($60,000 PTA). Unlike most platformed films, “Maestro” had only one screen (leading to many sellouts) and four shows a day.

That would make it the best platform Netflix debut since at least 2019. The film will expand (per usual, Netflix has not revealed details) with a 30-day theatrical window, above average for the streamer. There is clearly value in the film for theaters willing to play it.

“Dream Scenario” (A24) with Nicolas Cage expanded to 124 theaters for $640,000 ahead of a wider break this Friday. The company’s “Priscilla” fell out of the Top 10, but is now just under $20 million.

The Top 10

1. Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$28,300,000 (-37%) in 3,776 (no change) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,632; Cumulative: $98,374,000

2. Napoleon (Sony for Apple) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 64; Est. budget: $200 million

$20,400,000 in 3,500 theaters; PTA: $5,829; Cumulative: $32,500,000 (5 days)

3. Wish (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 48; Est. budget: $200 million

$19,500,000 in 3,900 theaters; PTA: $5,000; Cumulative: $31,700,000 (5 days)

4. Trolls Band Together (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$17,520,000 (-42%) in 3,893 (+23) theaters; PTA: $4,500; Cumulative: $64,468,000

5. Thanksgiving (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$7,150,000 (-31%) in 3,204 (no change) theaters; PTA: $2,232; Cumulative: $24,193,000

6. The Marvels (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$6,400,000 (-37%) in 3,070 (-960) theaters; PTA: $2,085; Cumulative: $76,900,000

7. The Holdovers (Focus) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$2,750,000 (+2%) in 1,601 (+123) theaters; PTA: $1,711; Cumulative: $12,888,000

8. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) Week 7; Last week #8

$2,330,000 (-16%) in 938 (-635) theaters; PTA: $2,463; Cumulative: $178,270,000

9. Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #5; also streaming on Peacock

$1,750,000 (-51%) in 1,754 (-1,075) theaters; PTA: $998; Cumulative: $136,209,000

10. Saltburn (MGM) Week 2; Last weekend #14

$1,735,000 in 1,566 (+1,559) theaters; PTA: $1,108; Cumulative: $3,098,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed.Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

Menus PlaisirsLes Troisgros NEW – Metacritic: 91; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2023

$6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,500; Cumulative: $8,500 (5 days)

Peeping Tom (Rialto) REISSUE

$6,500 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,500; Cumulative: $6,500

Next Goal Wins (Searchlight) Week 2

$1,700,000 in 2,240 (no change) theaters; PTA: $759; Cumulative: $5,742,000

Fallen Leaves (MUBI) Week 2

$42,510 in 8 (+6) theaters; PTA: $5,314; Cumulative: $115,615

The Disappearance of Shere Hite (IFC) Week 2

$2,538 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,269; Cumulative: $20,821

Dream Scenario (A24) Week 3

$639,521 in 124 (+99) theaters; PTA: $2,310; Cumulative: $1,379,000

Radical (Pantelion) Week 4

$750,600 in 325 (-126) theaters; Cumulative: $7,813,000

Priscilla (A24) Week 5

$1,300,000 in 1,063 (-739) theaters; Cumulative: $19,602,000

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) Week 7

$85,500 in 77 (-93) theaters; Cumulative: $3,367,000

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