Not that “Moana” faced much in the way of competition. The weekend after Thanksgiving tends to be a slow one for the movie business and this year’s edition was in keeping with that tradition. The only major new release, “Incarnate,” failed to sell many tickets, earning $2.6 million and falling short of its expected $4 million to $5 million opening.
“Incarnate” centers on a scientist (Aaron Eckhart) who enters the mind of an 11-year-old boy to rid him of an evil spirit. The horror film is the latest offering from BH Tilt, which is trying to contain distribution costs by orchestrating more targeted marketing campaigns for certain theatrical releases. “Incarnate” used digital advertising to try to better reach younger horror fans, and debuted on 1,700 screens, substantially fewer theaters than most studio movies unfurl across. It cost $5 million to produce.
“Believe,” a faith-based drama about a Christmas pageant, grossed a quiet $602,519 from 639 locations. Freestyle Releasing backed the film.
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One bright spot was the limited release debut of Fox Searchlight’s “Jackie.” The look at First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s efforts to put on a funeral for Jack Kennedy that honored her husband and cemented the president’s legacy has earned raves for Natalie Portman’s lead performance and Oscar buzz. It also did strong business in five theaters, picking up $275,000 for a $55,000 per-screen average.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the Harry Potter spinoff from Warner Bros., took second place, earning $18.5 million to push its domestic gross to $183.5 million.
Paramount’s “Arrival” came in third, earning $7.3 million. The science-fiction thriller has made $73.1 million. Coming in fourth, Paramount’s “Allied” added $7 million to its $28.9 million gross. Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” rounded out the top five, picking up $6.5 million to bring its stateside bounty to $215.3 million.
Among Oscar contenders, Amazon Studios and Roadside’s “Manchester by the Sea” expanded nicely, picking up $2.4 million after moving from 48 to 156 screens. The acclaimed drama about a grieving janitor has made $4.4 million.
A24’s “Moonlight” continued to impress. The coming-of-age story made $915,750, pushing its gross to $9.9 million.
The domestic box office continues to outpace last year’s revenues, with 2016 up roughly 4% over 2015. However, the weekend totals were off 3% from the same period last year, when the horror comedy “Krampus” debuted to a strong $16.3 million.
The movie business continues to hold its collective breath for the opening of “Rogue One: A Star Wars” story on Dec. 16, which is expected to dominate ticket sales for the rest of the year.
“This was the drama-free weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “It’s the calm after the storm and the calm before the storm.”