Wonka Ends Uneven Year on Top

Ticket sales climb but were still higher before pandemic
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2023 2:30 PM CST
Wonka Ends Uneven Year on Top
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Olivia Colman, left, and Timothee Chalamet in a scene from "Wonka."   (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Hollywood closed out an up-and-down 2023 with Wonka regaining No. 1 at the box office, strong sales for The Color Purple, and an overall $9 billion in ticket sales that improved on 2022's grosses but fell about $2 billion shy of pre-pandemic norms. The New Year's weekend this year lacked a true blockbuster, the AP reports. Instead, a wide array of films—among them Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, The Boys in the Boat, Migration, Ferrari, The Iron Claw, and Anyone But You—sought to break out over the year's most lucrative box office corridor.

The top choice, though, remained Wonka, Paul King's musical starring Timothée Chalamet as a young Willy Wonka. In its third weekend, the Warner Bros. release reached a domestic total of $142.5 million. Weekend sales only tell part of the story this time of year. From Christmas through New Year's, when students are out of school and many adults aren't working, every day is like Saturday to film distributors. The last weekend of the year pushed the industry past $9 billion in box office for the year in US and Canadian theaters for the first time since before the pandemic. Ticket sales on the year were up 21% from 2022, according to data firm Comscore.

Below are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. Wonka, $24 million.
  2. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, $19.5 million.
  3. Migration, $17.2 million.
  4. The Color Purple, $13 million.
  5. Anyone But You, $9 million.
  6. The Boys in the Boat, $8.3 million.
  7. The Iron Claw, $5 million.
  8. Ferrari, $4.1 million.
  9. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, $2.9 million.
  10. The Boy and the Heron, $2.5 million.
(More box office stories.)

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