By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, Dec 5 (Variety.com) - Without any new releases to pose a threat, Disney's animated musical fable "Encanto" has again notched the No. 1 spot on domestic box office charts.
In its second weekend of release, "Encanto" has collected $12.38 million from 3,980 venues in the U.S. and Canada. That marks a 54% drop from its debut and pushes the film's two-week total to $57.6 million domestically.
A decline of roughly 50% between its first and second weekend is in line with Disney's recent Thanksgiving releases, such as 2016's "Moana" (down 50%), 2017's "Coco" (down only 45%) 2018's "Ralph Breaks the Internet" (down 54%) and 2019's "Frozen II" (down 59%). Prior Disney animated features were able to conjure stronger starts at the domestic box office, however, those films weren't playing in theaters during a pandemic. By COVID-19 standards, "Encanto" is faring well at the box office. The family-friendly adventure, which boasts songs by "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, will land on Disney Plus after playing exclusively in theaters for 30 days.
Other than "Encanto" and its fellow holdover titles, like MGM's starry crime drama "House of Gucci" and Sony's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" reboot, it's all quiet on the box office front. That is, until Steven Spielberg's marvelously received "West Side Story" adaptation lands in theaters on Dec. 10 and Tom Holland's comic book adventure "Spider-Man: No Way Home" hits the big screen on Dec. 17.
Although big-budget films have started to return to cinemas and COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for younger children, movie theater attendance has remained on the lighter side. Still, Hollywood studios and film exhibitors have been optimistic that Spielberg's latest, Spidey's finale and Neo's return in "The Matrix: Resurrections" on Dec. 22 will be a potent enough combination to boost ticket sales in December.
Until then, theater operators will be serving up leftovers. The domestic box office chart's standings are near identical to last weekend's results, with "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" in second place, "House of Gucci" at No. 3 and Marvel's comic book epic "Eternals" in fifth place.
Fourth place was won by Fathom Events' "Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers." The release is a holiday special of the religious streaming series "The Chosen" and recounts the birth and life of Jesus Christ. "The Messengers" is projected to earn $4 million over the three-day weekend. Fathom Events sold $1.5 million in pre-sales during its first 12 hours of availability, prompting an expansion to a 10-night run across 1,700 theaters, the largest in the history of the specialty distributor.
"Afterlife," in its third weekend of release, collected $10.35 million from 4,059 North American theaters. In a notable pandemic-era milestone, the film is set to surpass $100 million domestically on Sunday. "Afterlife," which is available only in theaters, will have generated an impressive $101 million to date once the weekend ends.
Elsewhere, Lady Gaga continues to prop up the movie theater business. Her latest film "House of Gucci" added $6.77 million from 3,477 locations in the U.S. and Canada. After debuting to $21 million over the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend, "House of Gucci" has boosted its domestic tally to $33.6 million, which isn't a bad result at a time when most adult dramas during the pandemic have struggled to reach $10 million in total. But decent box office receipts by COVID-19 standards may not be enough to ensure "House of Gucci" becomes profitable. Since it cost $75 million to produce and many millions more to advertise, "House of Gucci" will need international audiences to turn out in force to get the movie out of the red.
After five weeks in theaters, "Eternals" brought in $3.8 million from 3,230 cinemas this weekend. The comic book adaptation -- starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie -- has amassed $156 million at the domestic box office -- an impressive number, albeit one that's a little beneath Marvel's usual sky-high performances.
Also notable is Warner Bros. and Legendary's "Dune," which returned to IMAX screens this weekend for a final dance with premium formats at the tail end of its theatrical run. The Denis Villeneuve-helmed sci-fi epic experienced a measly drop of 16% from the Thanksgiving holiday.
Over in the world of independent releases, MGM and United Artists Releasing's "Licorice Pizza" continued to draw audiences in its limited four-location engagement. The latest from Paul Thomas Anderson grossed $223,000 in its second weekend, marking a slight dip of 35% from its debut last week. The film landed pandemic-best numbers for per-theater average in its opening.