‘The Chosen’ outperforms Oscar bait at box office two weekends straight


A theatrically released streaming series about the life of Jesus reached the box office top 10 for the second straight weekend over Thanksgiving, outperforming Hollywood Oscar bait such as “She Said.”

From Friday to Sunday, “The Chosen Season 3: Episode 1 & 2” was No. 9 at the box office, with $1.6 million in gross ticket sales, The Associated Press reported. The biographical drama “She Said,” about the journalists who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story, placed No. 10, with $1.1 million.

That should send a message to Hollywood, some industry analysts say.

“The success of ‘The Chosen’ shows there is money Hollywood is leaving on the table, but the audience is one they don’t understand,” said Hunter Duesing, a Texas-based film teacher and co-host of the Midnight Movie Cowboys podcast. “Films like ‘She Said’ are fashionable for people in the media, but don’t have much appeal outside of a small group.”

When both films premiered on 2,000 screens last weekend, the crowdfunded “Chosen” placed No. 3, with an $8.7 million gross, while “She Said” was No. 6, with $2.2 million.

“The Chosen” had grossed $13.5 million as of Monday afternoon, according to Jared Geesey, senior vice president of global distribution for Angel Studios. 

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The theatrical release consists of two episodes of the television show that the Utah-based company will release digitally next month.

“It’s exactly where we’d hoped to land,” Mr. Geesey said. “The reason people come out to watch our crowdfunded streaming shows in theaters is that we know who they are.”

Hollywood is coming off the worst Thanksgiving weekend in box office history, not counting 2020 when COVID-19 quarantines shuttered most theaters.

Box office receipts totaled just $95 million nationally from Friday to Sunday. The last time the film industry failed to break $100 million on Thanksgiving weekend during an ordinary year of releases was 1994 — when movie ticket prices averaged $4.08.

In the biggest flop of the weekend, Walt Disney Co.’s animated “Strange World” grossed just $11.9 million in North American theaters against a reported $180 million budget.

That put it second behind Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which raked in $45.9 million as it cruised atop the box office for the third straight weekend.

Other Oscar hopefuls that flopped over the weekend included the Korean War drama “Devotion” about the first Black aviator in Navy history (No. 3 at $6 million); the nationwide expansion of the Timothée Chalamet cannibal romance “Bones and All” (No. 7 at $2.2 million); and Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical “The Fabelmans” ($2.2 million).

These dismal receipts should push Hollywood to “rediscover what audiences want to see” in theaters while banishing adult dramas to streaming platforms, says Christian Toto, editor of HollywoodInToto.com.

A former features writer for The Washington Times, Mr. Toto said it’s gotten harder during the pandemic for theaters to wean audiences away from the growing popularity of at-home streaming platforms. Not even big names are enough to persuade audiences to sit through unpleasant niche movies in theaters, he noted.

“Oscar-bait movies are dying at the box office,” Mr. Toto said. “Studios are also disconnected from populist principles. Who wants to see a cannibal love story like ‘Bones and All’ on Thanksgiving weekend?”

• This article is based in part on wire reports.


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