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Box Office: ‘Moana’ Heads for Heroic $88 Million Thanksgiving Weekend Opening

Disney’s animated adventure “Moana” is dominating North American moviegoing with as much as $88 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period, early estimates showed Wednesday.

Brad Pitt’s “Allied” appears to be performing respectably with around $19 million for the five days while Billy Bob Thornton’s “Bad Santa 2” is heading for a decent return in the $12 million range. Meanwhile, Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply” is generating only modest interest with about $5 million for the holiday period.

Moana” opened with plenty of box office power by taking in $2.6 million at Tuesday night preview showings starting at 7 p.m. in North America. That doubled the $1.3 million Tuesday preview record set last year by Disney’s “The Good Dinosaur.” These latest estimates blow past earlier predictions that had the film opening in the $75 million range.

“Moana” may even match the all-time Thanksgiving record of $93.4 million for the five days, set three years ago by Disney’s “Frozen.” It’s the third animated film released this year by Disney following “Zootopia” and “Finding Dory” — both which topped $1 billion in worldwide grosses.

“Moana” is expected to easily top the holdover number for Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which appears headed to the $60 million to $63 million range. “Beasts” debuted last weekend to $74.4 million and added $6.8 million on Monday and $9.3 million on Tuesday.

Paramount’s opening of  “Allied” is battling Disney’s fourth week of “Doctor Strange” for third place, with Marvel’s Benedict Cumberbatch tentpole heading for the $20 million to $22 million range for the five days — pushing it well past the $200 million mark. “Allied,” with Pitt and Cotillard playing married World War II spies, took in $600,000 on Thursday night and looks like to finish the five days with $18 million to $20 million.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” looks likely to finish in fifth for the five days in the $16 million to $18 million area, ahead of the raucous “Bad Santa 2,” which took in $350,000 at 1,969 sites in Tuesday previews, then expanded to 2,920 on Wednesday.

“Moana,” screening at 3,875 locations, has been embraced by reviewers with a 99% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film introduces Auli’i Cravalho as the voice of Moana and features Dwayne Johnson as Maui with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton.”

Fox is releasing “Rules Don’t Apply,” a romantic drama that’s Beatty’s first directing gig since 1998’s “Bulworth.” Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins play a couple who fall in love in 1958 while working for billionaire Howard Hughes (portrayed by Beatty). “Rules Don’t Apply,” which premiered on Nov. 10 as the opener to the AFI Fest, is at 2,382 sites.

Overall business during five days won’t eclipse the Thanksgiving record set in 2013, when “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen” drove the box office to a massive $293.6 million. And it’s probably going to fall short of last year’s $257.7 million, which was propelled by “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2,” “The Good Dinosaur” and “Creed,” according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

“There’s a very good selection right now, starting with ‘Moana,’ a Harry Potter film, a Brad Pitt movie and a Marvel movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian. “There’s a lot of good momentum right now that started from ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Trolls’ in the first weekend in November, which really turned things around.”

Fall box office had been down by 15.7% as of Oct. 16 at $809.7 million but closed the gap over the succeeding month to a 1.7% decline with $1.57 billion for the season, which ran from Sept. 6 to Nov. 17.




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