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All Hail the Niche Event Film

Beyoncé in Tamara Ralph for the opening of night two of the Renaissance Tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Sept. 2, 2023.
Beyoncé in Tamara Ralph for the opening of night two of the Renaissance Tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Sept. 2, 2023. Photo: Julian Dakdouk
Scott Mendelson
December 4, 2023

Silent Night, which marks John Woo’s first American film since Paycheck in 2003, opened to just $3 million domestically this weekend via Lionsgate. That’s not a shock—Joel Kinnaman isn’t exactly a butts-in-seats draw, and Woo was barely known to general audiences back in the days of Face/Off and Broken Arrow. But while Hollywood mostly took the post-Thanksgiving weekend off, as it does most years, Beyoncé and Godzilla stepped in to save the box office. The result, with a famously slow weekend getting a shot in the arm, presages how theaters can help salvage their business as traditional movies falter.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, distributed independently by the AMC Theatres chain and Variance, earned an estimated $21 million over its first weekend. That’s among the biggest openings for a concert/music doc and the second-largest post-Thanksgiving debut (sans inflation) after The Last Samurai ($24.2 million, or $42 million adjusted) exactly 20 years ago. As I’ve said for two decades, skipping out on this frame is a mistake, as films like the Tom Cruise historical epic have shown that an appealing enough movie can compete with holiday parties and shopping. But there was more!