One month. Two movies. Is November big enough for Marvel and Disney animation?
Disney, Pixar and the MCU have a history of sharing Thanksgiving. PLUS: The story behind the ‘Quantumania’ visual effects, and is that character actually dead on ‘The Last of Us’?
Can moviegoers support both a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and an animated Disney film during the Thanksgiving season?
That’s the question TheWrap asked on Wednesday. The trade addressed Disney sending The Marvels and Wish to theaters twelve days apart this November. Can Disney, with its renewed commitment to theatrical releases and not infringing on the theater-to-home release window, find box office success even if it’s competing against itself?
TheWrap rightfully notes that Disney has pulled this feat off in the past. Doctor Strange and Moana coexisted. Thor: Ragnarok and Coco found success together. But, as TheWrap writes, things did not go well for Strange World in the wake of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever last year.
This got me wondering how Disney has managed not just MCU releases against movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios proper but also Pixar Studios since the inception of Marvel Studios. Is this even something we — or more appropriately — Disney should be worrying about?
Thor: The Dark World
Release: Nov. 8, 2013
Opening weekend: $85.7M / Domestic: $206.4M / Worldwide: $644.6 million
Release: Nov. 22, 2013
Opening weekend: $67.4M / Domestic: $401M / Worldwide: $1.26B
Days between release: 14
The Thanksgiving season has long been the home of Disney releases, but this was the first year Marvel Studios released a movie in November. The two-week gap between Thor: The Dark World and Frozen didn’t hurt either film.
The second Thor movie enjoyed the post-Avengers box office bump, improving on the original Thor’s $65.7 million opening weekend.
As for Frozen, I don’t think the film was bothered in the least having to share November with an MCU installment. Frozen lost the opening weekend battle against The Dark World, but doubled the second Thor film’s domestic and worldwide box office numbers.
Big Hero 6
Release: Nov. 7, 2014
Opening weekend: $56.2M / Domestic: $222.5M / Worldwide: $648.4M
Marvel Studios sat out November 2014, allowing Disney’s Big Hero 6 to have the month to itself.
The Good Dinosaur
Release: Nov. 25, 2015
Opening weekend: $39.2M / Domestic: $123.1M / Worldwide: $333.8M
For the second year in a row, November was without an MCU movie. The Good Dinosaur could’ve used the competition, though, as it would’ve given the first bomb from Pixar an excuse for its dismal box office performance.
Release: Nov. 4, 2016
Opening weekend: $85.1M / Domestic: $232.6M / Worldwide: $676.3M
Release: Nov. 23, 2016
Opening weekend: $56.6M / Domestic: $248.8M / Worldwide: $630.9M
Days between release: 19
I want to ask how Moana grossed only $56.6 million over its opening weekend, but if we peek ahead, you can see that it was in line with Coco’s $50.8 million and Ralph Breaks the Internet’s $56.2 million opening weekends.
Doctor Strange came out of the gate stronger than Moana, but the two films wound up finishing fairly close, with Moana beating the first Doctor Strange by less than $15 million at the domestic box office.
Release: Nov. 3, 2016
Opening weekend: $122.7M / Domestic: $315.1M / Worldwide: $850.5M
Release: Nov. 22, 2016
Opening weekend: $50.8M / Domestic: $210.5M / Worldwide: $797.7M
Days between release: 19
Once again, the Disney and Pixar releases don’t set the same records that the MCU movies do. Coco is an all-time release from Pixar and almost matched Thor: Ragnarok’s worldwide gross, but it did all of that after its opening weekend.
This might be the secret to Disney making its MCU/Disney/Pixar Novembers work. As long as the MCU movie releases first, it will do a ton of business over its opening weekend before allowing a Disney/Pixar movie to come along and keep raking in money over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Release: Nov. 21, 2018
Opening weekend: $56.2M / Domestic: $201.1M / Worldwide: $529.3M
Marvel Studios didn’t release a movie in November 2018. This was the time between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. We got Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel during this time, but the MCU could release only so many films during The Blip.
Release date: Nov. 22, 2019
Opening weekend: $130.3M / Domestic: $477.4M / Worldwide: $1.44B
After Endgame released in April 2019, Marvel Studios took a breather after completing the Infinity Saga. This allowed Frozen II to open to $130.3 million in November on the way to a whopping $1.44 billion worldwide gross.
Hey, it was a pandemic. No movies in theaters during November 2020.
Release date: Nov. 5, 2021
Opening weekend: $71.3M / Domestic: $164.9M / Worldwide: $401.7M
Release date: Nov. 24, 2021
Opening weekend: $27.2M / Domestic: $96.1M / Worldwide: $231.2M
Days between release: 19
And now we’re back! Movies are in theaters! Everything is great! (Everything was not great.)
Eternals managed to gross $71.3 million over its opening weekend on the way to a $401.7 million worldwide haul. Sure, that’s not great for the MCU, but it almost doubled Encanto’s worldwide gross.
It’s weird, since Encanto is fantastic. We recently put on a few songs from the movie for our daughter, and it’s definitely underappreciated. (Real ones know “Surface Pressure” is the true best song in Encanto.)
I do wonder if Eternals managed to squeeze in just before the Omicron variant reared its head and sent a lot of us back inside for a few weeks. (It didn’t stop Spider-Man: No Way Home from opening with $260.1 million on the way to a $1.91 billion worldwide gross less than a month after Encanto hit theaters.)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release date: Nov. 11, 2022
Opening weekend: $181.3 / Domestic: $453.7 / Worldwide: $854.9M
Release date: Nov. 23, 2022
Opening weekend: $12.2M / Domestic: $38M / Worldwide: $69.5M
Days between release: 12
Woof. Things did not go well for Strange World last year.
I don’t think we can attribute the most recent Disney Animation Studios’ release’s box office woes to either its close release to an MCU movie or the pandemic. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pulled in a whopping $181.3 million just twelve days before Strange World opened.
Did Disney forget to promote Strange World? Have theatergoers gotten use to animated movies being streaming releases?
Release date: Nov. 10, 2023
Release date: Nov. 22, 2023
Days between release: 12
We’re going to get an answer to that question this November.
Not only is The Marvels the sequel to a film that opened to $154.3 million in 2019, but it’s pulling in characters from WandaVision and Ms. Marvel. This is a major tentpole movie.
Wish, however, is not a sequel. Or an adaption of an existing property. It’s actually a pretty interesting project, as it’s supposed to mix the current form of computer animation with traditional watercolor animation. The film celebrates Disney’s 100th anniversary, and I expect Disney to do everything it can to get audiences interested in that angle.
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‘Quantumania’ visual effects artists speak out
Visual effects artists are overworked. And they have little recourse when it comes to pushing back against giant studios like Marvel. Which makes it even more interesting when they speak off the record about how poorly things took a turn with Ant-Man and the Wasp-Quantumania.
“In terms of priority, Wakanda Forever was definitely at the top of the list,” a visual-effects artist who works for a company that did effects for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Quantumania told Vulture. “All the money went to that. All the best resources went to that. It’s understandable given the context — with [Chadwick Boseman] and everything and how well the first film did. But it did diminish the ability to carry Ant-Man all the way through.”
Vulture got some pretty juicy bits from the people who worked on the special effects for Quantumania. I definitely get the impression that late changes to the story and reshoots threw a wrench in how the special effects were going.
The Academy has a plan in case anyone gets slapped at the Oscars this year
The Academy struggled to respond after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during last year’s Oscars. You’d think after someone in the audience assaulted the host, they wouldn’t still be there to accept an award shortly after, but, hey, the Academy didn’t see an issue with that.
This year is different. If anyone slaps anyone, the Academy has a plan this time.
“Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer told Yahoo! “But these crisis plans—the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place—allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement.”
No one can ever accuse the Academy of not being on top of things.
The stars of the Rick and Michonne ‘Walking Dead’ spinoff are ‘are back on set’
Lots of The Walking Dead spinoffs are on the way. Daryl. Negan and Maggie. Rick and Michonne. AMC gave us an update on that last one this past week, revealing that Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira are on set working on the untitle spinoff featuring their Walking Dead characters.
Are you still watching The Walking Dead? Are you interested in any of the spinoffs? We stopped watching years ago after the show couldn’t decide whether Rick and his crew were badass commandos or morons who couldn’t figure out Negan’s roadblocks.
Din Djarin and Grogu, Bo-Katan and Greef Karga get ‘Mandalorian’ character posters
I’m currently two episodes behind on The Bad Batch, which means I’m going to have to resolve that pileup over the next week or so before The Mandalorian hits Disney+ for its third season.
Lucasfilm released three character posters for the upcoming season on Wednesday, highlighting the duo of Din Djarin and Grogu, Bo-Katan and Greef Karga.
It’s still wild that there’s a live-action Bo-Katan, that Katee Sackhoff made the leap from voicing the animated version to playing this version, and that she’s a huge part of the upcoming season. (They made her hair longer and more accurate to the animated version, right?)
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The Last of Us
So Joel’s not dead, right?
After The Last of Us quickly reunited Joel and his brother, Tommy, the show left us with a cliffhanger. Joel’s been stabbed. It doesn’t look good.
This shouldn’t be a spoiler, but if we’re going by the video games, Joel needs to stay alive until Season 2. Sure, the show could surprise us, but I can’t imagine Joel is dying in the snow next to those train tracks.
“Kin” further showcased the chemistry between Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. (No, not the kind of chemistry Leonardo DiCaprio and his girlfriends have …) I loved Ramsey’s Ellie teasing Pascal’s Joel about his time as a contractor (“everybody loves a contractor”) and encouraging Joel to congratulate Tommy on his relationship with Maria (“Joel, say congrats”).
Watching this episode and its characters talk about Ellie being the key to finding a vaccine against the Cordyceps infection, I had to ask if — based on *waves arms at our current situation* — everyone would even take the vaccine? I dunno, maybe things are different in that alternate reality. Or maybe they’re fine having giant mushroom heads as long it they can own their rivals.
“Oh Row You Didn’t”
Hey, this was the 250th episode of Bob’s Burgers. (Only 491 left to go to catch The Simpsons!) While “Oh Row You Didn’t” was a solid episode of Bob’s Burgers, it wasn’t a standout episode to match the occasion.
I assume this is because Fox constantly shuffles the airing order of Bob’s Burgers and the creative team couldn’t pinpoint when and where the milestone 250th episode would fall.
“I was dumb then. I’m smart now,” is a hall-of-fame line.
Give it up for the Last of Us menstrual cup (Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture)
How Monopoly became America’s cruelest board game (Simon Parkin, The New Yorker)
Donald Duck hit peak popularity during his horny era (, Polygon)
A science fiction magazine closed submissions after being bombarded with stories written by ChatGPT (Michael Grothaus, Fast Company)
“This is not an invasion of the aliens”: How UFO mania went mainstream (Joe Pompeo, Vanity Fair)
The films of Steven Spielberg, ranked (Steven Hyden, Uproxx)
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Woody Harrelson hosts SNL
Woody Harrelson joins the Saturday Night Live Five-Timers Club this weekend. He’s previously hosted in 1989, 1992, 2014 and 2019, playing Joe Biden during that most recent hosting gig. (This was back before Lorne Michaels anointed Jim Carrey as one of the ultimate SNL: Celebrity Edition cameo.)
10 Things Jeremy Strong Can’t Live Without
This might be one of the most insufferable things I’ve ever watched. If you’re not familiar with GQ’s 10 Things YouTube series, a celebrity shows off a handful of stuff they like. It’s usually skincare items, headphones or books. (Yes, celebs want you to know they read.)
Jeremy Strong couldn’t just stick to the normal rules.
The Succession actor showed off things like pieces of paper he had saved from movies he shot 30 years ago or sunglasses that were designed for Kendall — the character he plays and can’t seem to separate himself from.
Marvel Studios, please cast Strong as Reed Richards. I need to see him go Method to play a man who can stretch his body in superhuman ways.
Funko made a Cocaine Bear
Everyone gets a Funko Pop these days. (Unless you’re a character on Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power since Amazon forgot to pay for merchandising rights.) Cocaine Bear is no different.
Funko unveiled the Cocaine Bear Pop on Wednesday, showing off one of the more ridiculous entries in the Funko line.
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