'Moana' cruises with $81.1M Thanksgiving weekend

Posted November 28, 2016

Disney's South Pacific animated tale Moana fell short of a Frozen-sized debut, but it still dominated the Thanksgiving box office in the US.

Following a Polynesian girl who heads out on an ocean journey to save her people, the movie features the voice of Dwayne Johnson and the music of "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Burbank, California-based studio had already won seven of the top eight highest Thanksgiving opening three-day weekends, adjusted for inflation, thanks to movies like "Toy Story" and "Frozen". Moana's three-day weekend is also the third largest opening for Walt Disney Animation Studios, behind only Zootopia and Big Hero 6, both of which opened on Friday and should Moana's three-day gross come in $700,000 higher than estimated it would surpass Big Hero 6 on that list. J.K. Rowling's new film venture, a spinoff prequel to her Harry Potter franchise, starring Eddie Redmayne as wizard Newt Scamander, took $65.8 million for the holiday weekend for $156.2 million total.

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The movie, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon Stephen Strange - whose life changes forever after a horrific auto accident - is the 14th film in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another slump at the box-office this weekend was "Rules Don't Apply", which only grossed $1.58M across 2,382 locations, and only $2.18M for the week.

Among new openers, The Weinstein Co. and See-Saw's Lion debuted Friday in four theaters in Los Angeles and NY, grossing $128,368 for a location average of $32,092. Add to that the second weekend of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and we have a Thanksgiving weekend to be reckoned with. The film earned $600,000 at 2,382 locations and should finish the five-day frame with around $2 million.

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Overseas, Fantastic Beasts topped the chart with a pleasing $132 million for a foreign total of $317.5 million and global haul of $473.7 million. The Paramount Pictures release, directed by Robert Zemeckis, cost a hefty $85 million to make.

"Bad Santa 2", from Broad Green and Miramax, didn't flop as badly as "Rules Don't Apply", but it pulled in a scant $9 million over five days. Writing in the Times, movie critic Kenneth Turan said the 20th Century Fox film about Howard Hughes - Beatty's first directorial outing since "Bulworth" in 1998 - was "not without its charms, but there aren't enough of them and they don't readily cohere". But once again, we have a situation with a comedy where the sequel can't capitalize on the original's success because it was released more than 10 years later. Odd took third place and $18.9 million for $205.1 million to date.

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The top 10 is rounded out by Trolls ($10.3 million), Almost Christmas ($7.6 million), Bad Santa 2 ($6.1 million), Hacksaw Ridge ($5.4 million) and The Edge of Seventeen ($2.9 million).