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‘Knives Out’ sequel hits theaters as Thanksgiving box office forecasts wane

Yahoo Finance entertainment reporter Allie Canal details the latest film releases, concerns on Thanksgiving box office results heading into the Christmas season, and early predictions for James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water" opening weekend returns.

Video Transcript

- Thanksgiving weekend is usually a big moneymaker for movie theaters, but with few major titles available, what can we expect? Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal is here with the outlook so far. So, Ali, how is it looking.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Hi, Rochelle. You're right. You know, the content, it isn't really there like it's been in years past, but we do have some new titles out over this weekend that could surprise at the box office. If we take a look at the theatrical exclusives this weekend, we have a lot of Disney with the animated film "Strange World." We should also see continued success from "Wakanda Forever," but probably one of the most anticipated is that sequel to "Knives Out."

Now this movie will only be available in select markets for one week before it moves over to Netflix at the end of December, but I spoke with Sean Robbins. He's the chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro, and he told me that the level of success here could really make this a watershed moment when it comes to the relationship between streaming platforms and exhibitors as this is probably the most talked about, the buzziest streaming title to open exclusively in cinemas. And it's just this vote of confidence when it comes to the theatrical experience, when it comes to the ability for the box office to really turn a profit for these types of films.

We did get the news earlier this week that Amazon will reportedly be investing $1 billion to produce 12 to 15 movies a year exclusively for theaters, and that report sent shares of movie theater chains like AMC and Cinemark higher. So I think there's still a lot more to come when we think about this relationship. We've come a long way from 2020 and 2021, but Netflix, of course, has largely been resistant. So we'll see if "Glass Onion" can change that type of strategy.

Overall, though the Thanksgiving box office is expected to pull in about 100 million plus over the three-day weekend, 140 million plus over the five days. So as you can see that's roughly on par with 2021, but we're still significantly below 2019 levels with that three-day pulling in 181 million and the five-day, a whopping 262 million. And a lot of that has to do with the types of movies that are out. Hopefully, we'll see that start to stabilize in 2023.

- Yeah, Ali, I haven't even watched the first "Knives Out." I got a lot of catching up to do this weekend.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: You do. Good.

- I've heard great reviews. As you said, you know, this weekend has historically been the kickoff to what is a busy holiday movie season. Hasn't been the case the last few years. But how are things stacking up? What's the pipeline looking like going into year end?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Absolutely the biggest film coming up in year end is the sequel "Avatar 2." This has been a movie that James Cameron has been talking about for years. The original "Avatar" aired in 2009, so a lot of time people have been waiting for this. And the film got the green light this week to air in China, and that was also a huge deal for Hollywood, a huge deal for this movie. That country has been notorious when it comes to rejecting films, and if we take a look at ticket sales from that original "Avatar" in 2009, overall, it grossed $2.74 billion with $202 million coming from mainland China.

So that's a significant market for these types of films. And overall, "Avatar 2," it cost a pretty penny. Reports have it at around $250 million plus, so it needs to do well. And in terms of the projections, we have a long range forecast from Boxoffice Pro between $135 million to $175 million, so that's the number to watch.

I do have high expectations. People love this franchise. It's certainly a long time coming, but we'll have to wait and see if it can deliver. But considering this is probably going to be the biggest film at the end of the year, we're not-- it's not gonna really have that much competition. I do think all eyes are going to be on this, and it's going to continue well into the first quarter of 2023 as well.

- Yeah, I mean, just the kind of movie that you want to actually go to the theaters to watch if you saw the first "Avatar," but we'll be watching that one as well. Thanks so much for that, Ali.