Don't blame Netflix's 'The Irishman' for the Thanksgiving box office being down this year
- The Thanksgiving domestic box office was down 16% from last year, according to Comscore.
- Netflix released Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" on Wednesday and some were quick to draw a correlation. "Thanks for nothing Irishman" was trending on Linkedin on Monday.
- But a more realistic reason for the drop at the box office is that there were no blockbuster new releases over the holiday.
- The movies that were in theaters, though - such as "Frozen II" and "Knives Out" - still performed well. The former broke a Thanksgiving record and the latter exceeded expectations.
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The Thanksgiving domestic box office was down 16% from last year with $264 million, according to Comscore. Meanwhile, Netflix dropped director Martin Scorsese's crime epic "The Irishman" on Wednesday just in time for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Some were to quick to draw a connection. "Thanks for nothing Irishman" was trending on Linkedin on Monday. A New York Times headline on Sunday asked "Did 'The Irishman' Take a Bite Out of the Thanksgiving Box Office?," implying that audiences stayed home to enjoy the three-and-a-half-hour Oscar hopeful.But the answer to the Times' question is probably "no" for a number of reasons.
It's true that some viewers could have avoided cinemas in favor of watching "The Irishman." But the likelihood of a Netflix movie doing any significant damage to the entire theatrical market over a holiday weekend is extremely low. A more realistic answer is that there just weren't any new blockbusters released over the holiday weekend. But the movies that were available still performed well.
"Frozen II" was released the prior weekend and earned an impressive $127 million domestically. The animated Disney sequel still made $123 million over the Thanksgiving five-day weekend and $85 million over the three-day weekend, topping "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" for the biggest Thanksgiving box office ever. If "Frozen II" had debuted over the Thanksgiving weekend, perhaps the box office wouldn't have been down.
Last year, two big releases made their debut over the Thanksgiving weekend: another Disney sequel, "Ralph Breaks the Internet," and "Creed II." Both movies scored sizable box-office earnings last year over the five-day holiday, with "Ralph Breaks the Internet" making $85 million and "Creed II" making $56 million.
Another adult-oriented, non-franchise movie, "Ford v Ferrari," continued its strong presence at the box office with $19 million domestically over the five days. "Queen and Slim," another new release, earned $15.7 million.
As for "The Irishman," we won't know how many people actually watched it unless Netflix releases numbers, which the streaming giant has only done for some of its most successful movies and TV shows. Netflix counts a view for a movie if an account watches 70% of its runtime, meaning users would have had to watch about 2 and a half hours of the movie.