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Hollywood box office sales slump in November | CNN Business




Movie theaters slumped into a “Slow-vember,” say industry analysts, as several of the season’s most anticipated movies drew underwhelming box office sales last month.

Domestic theaters grossed about $553.6 million this November, a 12% decline from last year and still more than $400 million short of pre-pandemic levels, according to data from research firm Comscore. Between 2009 and 2019, Novembers were a reliably lucrative month and could be counted on to rake in nearly a billion dollars, owing in part to the long Thanksgiving weekend.

This year’s holiday corridor, measured from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after, grossed $173 million, according to Comscore. That’s about $50 million more than last year but still lagging behind the roughly $270 million average typical before 2020.

“‘The Marvels’ and ‘Wish’ are two films that, based on the impressive historical track record of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney animated films during the Thanksgiving period, were expected to generate much bigger box office than was realized by both films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

The two movies, in addition to “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and “Trolls Band Together” “arguably cannibalized each one’s potential female audience in a short time frame,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro.

Other key factors contributing to the disappointing box office included the SAG-AFTRA strike, which prevented actors from promoting upcoming movies, as well as the anticipated sci-fi blockbuster “Dune: Part Two” was removed from the November slate and pushed back to a March 2024 release date. But ultimately, “nothing reached the kind of event-level, must-see status for casual moviegoers that has been common in holiday seasons past,” said Robbins.

Marvel’s November offering last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” opened with a strong $181 million in domestic sales and led the holiday weekend charge with nearly $64 million.

This year, “The Marvels” grossed a disappointing $46 million in its opening weekend. It was also surpassed by “The Hunger Games,” which was the top movie over Thanksgiving weekend, grossing $42 million. However, even that fell short of the Thanksgiving runs of “Catching Fire” and both “Mockingjay” movies, which grossed $110, $82 and $76 million, respectively, between 2013 and 2015.

“‘Hunger Games,’ while leggy thanks to word-of-mouth, never had a realistic shot to match its predecessors’ performances being a prequel without Jennifer Lawrence’s star power,” said Robbins.

An underperforming November means the pressure is on the last month of the year. December could see a similar slump, according to Robbins, given the “Ghostbusters” sequel has been delayed until next year and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” will likely not live up to the first movie’s box office revenue.

So far this year, domestic theaters have grossed $8.26 billion, “just $740 million shy of the $9 billion plus expected for the full year,” said Dergarabedian.

“It will now be important for the films set for the rest of the year to perform at or above expectations to take the industry in to 2024 with strong momentum,” he added. “The good news for theaters is that there is a fantastic selection of movies from all genres, budgets big and small and awards contenders as well as mainstream blockbusters in the mix.”

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