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Disney’s Thanksgiving Weekend Box Office: It's A Turkey

An animated image of a man with dark hair and a goatee holding a large sheepdog
Jake Gyllenhaal was the voice of Searcher Clade in Disney's "Strange World." The movie bombed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
(The Walt Disney Co.)
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Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude — and maybe an extra slice of pie.

Yet there wasn’t much the Walt Disney Co. could be grateful for over the holiday weekend.

If there’s one thing Disney can feel thankful about, it’s that its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year is almost over. But adding insult to injury, the company’s latest animated release, Strange World, opened Thanksgiving weekend to some of the worst ticket sales in modern Disney history.

Grim pre-opening estimates suggested the movie, whose voice talent includes Jake Gyllenhaal and Gabrielle Union, might gross as little as $40 million over the five-day, Wednesday-Sunday weekend.

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But even those projections were way too optimistic.

The movie generated less than half that, taking in a paltry $18.9 million in its first five days in theaters. For the usual three-day time frame, Strange World reported ticket sales of just $12.2 million.

In international markets, Strange World was equally unpopular. Put it all together, and it’s certain the $180 million production will likely cost Disney a small fortune.

To put the Strange World opening in animated movie perspective, this past summer’s Disney box office dud Lightyear grossed $50.6 million in its first three days, and the studio’s Encanto (also considered a flop) reported sales of $27.2 million in its first three days last Thanksgiving.

Part of Disney’s problem is that it has conditioned audiences to avoid the multiplex, as many of its pandemic-era releases either debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+, or arrived on the streaming site just a few weeks after the films landed in theaters. (Adult dramas also have struggled to get an audience, as Tar, Armageddon Time, She Said and The Fabelmans have all fizzled at the multiplex)..

Disney just replaced CEO Bob Chapek with former CEO Bob Iger, as the media company’s new streaming services continue to bleed money, having lost $4 billion in the last year.

The good news? It would be hard to do worse in 2023.

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