Disney’s ‘Wish’ Fizzles, ‘Napoleon’ Beats Expectations as ‘Hunger Games’ Lands on Top Again Box Office

Gov Bd Info

Amidst the fervent anticipation surrounding the cinematic debut of "Wish," the latest animated spectacle from the studio, the Thanksgiving box office witnessed an unexpected twist. Rather than soaring to the summit of financial success, ticket sales plummeted below projections, marking a modest $19.5 million during the customary weekend and $31.7 million over the extended five-day period. This setback relegated the film to the third position, eclipsed by Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" prelude, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," and Ridley Scott's grandiose historical narrative, "Napoleon."

Prior to the weekend unraveling, the melodious tale "Wish" had been forecasted to secure $35 million over the weekend and a more substantial $45 million to $50 million within its inaugural five days. Although the sales did not plunge to the depths witnessed with the studio's 2022 misfire, "Strange World" (amassing a mere $12 million over the weekend and $18 million across five days), it fell significantly short of the 2021 triumph "Encanto," which boasted an initial $40.3 million over its first five days during the COVID-constrained era. This pales in comparison to Disney's pre-pandemic Thanksgiving releases such as "Frozen II" (2019, $123.7 million), "Ralph Breaks the Internet" (2018, $84.6 million), and "Coco" (2017, $71 million).

Internationally, "Wish" secured an additional $17.3 million across 27 markets, constituting around 40% of its eventual global reach and bringing the cumulative global earnings to $49 million. The lackluster reception underscores Disney's recent struggle at the box office, a notable departure from its former invincibility. Most entries in the 2023 slate, excluding "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," have faced significant underperformance during their theatrical exhibitions. This predicament is exacerbated by the substantial production costs of Disney films, averaging around $200 million before accounting for global marketing expenditures.

In the case of "Wish," Disney pins its hopes on the film's longevity during the bustling holiday season, drawing parallels to the summer success of "Elemental," which rebounded impressively after a lackluster opening. Armed with a hefty $200 million production budget, "Wish" must exhibit resilience akin to its successful counterparts to justify its financial scale. Favorably, audience reception, in contrast to critical scrutiny, has been positive, as evidenced by the film's "A-" CinemaScore. The narrative, featuring original compositions and the vocal talents of Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine, revolves around Asha, a young protagonist endeavoring to rescue the fantastical Kingdom of Rosas from impending darkness.

Meanwhile, "Napoleon," a $200 million war epic featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the notorious French leader, secured the second position with an impressive $21 million over the traditional weekend and $32.5 million within the initial five days. Globally, "Napoleon" amassed $78.8 million.

Despite "Napoleon" narrowly outpacing "Wish" on domestic charts, analysts have been more lenient in their assessment of its debut performance. The film's formidable nature, catering to adult audiences as an R-rated period piece centered on a long-deceased military figure, spanning nearly two hours and 40 minutes, tempers expectations. Traditional studios might find the economics of "Napoleon" disheartening, a sentiment shared with Apple's investment in Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," costing $200 million yet grossing $151 million globally.

Apple, possessing deep financial reserves, seems less concerned with immediate profitability from its films, opting to release high-budget productions in theaters, with Sony Pictures handling "Napoleon's" distribution. This strategy aims to build anticipation for their eventual streaming launch on Apple TV+, positioning itself as a contender against Netflix and Disney+. Notably, this doesn't preclude a future shift in Apple's perspective on the significance of box office revenue.

In the wake of the underwhelming performances of "Wish" and "Napoleon," the previous weekend's champion, "The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," reasserted its dominance. This prequel, featuring Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in an action-adventure set before the era of Katniss Everdeen, garnered an additional $28.8 million over the weekend and $42 million since Wednesday, accumulating a total of $98.3 million in North America and nearly $200 million globally.

While Lionsgate's return to Panem may not match the original series' financial success, the prequel, with a $100 million budget, stands solid in its theatrical run. Despite being marketed as a standalone film in the "Hunger Games" universe, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," based on Suzanne Collins' 2020 book, hints at future cinematic explorations within the dystopian world.

Securing the fourth position, Universal and DreamWorks Animation's "Trolls Band Together" earned $17.5 million over the weekend and $25.3 million since Wednesday. The animated threequel, accumulating $64.4 million to date, likely impacted the audience turnout for "Wish," targeting the same demographic. "Trolls 3" has reached $145 million worldwide after two weekends and was comparatively economical to produce at $95 million.

Sony's holiday-themed slasher, "Thanksgiving," claimed the fifth spot with $7.1 million over the weekend and $11.1 million over the extended five-day period. The R-rated film, with a production cost of $15 million, has amassed $24 million to date, a commendable figure considering its modest budget.

Elsewhere, Disney's "The Marvels" descended to the sixth position with $6.4 million over the weekend and $9.2 million since Wednesday. The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment has grossed $76 million in North America and $187 million globally. While this trajectory falls short of its predecessor, 2019's "Captain Marvel" ($153 million) by the time it concludes its theatrical run, it faces the prospect of becoming the first MCU film to miss the $100 million mark domestically.

In a noteworthy box office achievement, "Five Nights at Freddy's" clinched the title of the highest-grossing Blumhouse release, amassing $283.1 million, surpassing the global earnings of M. Night Shyamalan's 2016 thriller, "Split" ($278.7 million).

Overall, the Thanksgiving cinematic landscape generated $172 million in ticket sales, marking the most substantial post-pandemic tally. Nevertheless, it falls short of the pre-COVID era's customary revenues exceeding $250 million. The pinnacle of holiday earnings occurred in 2018 when Disney's "Ralph Breaks the Internet" and the Michael B. Jordan-led sports drama "Creed II" propelled the box office to a collective $325.6 million.

Analyzing the results, senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian notes, "Despite the overall Thanksgiving frame coming in lower than in the


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