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Box Office: ‘Coco’ Battling ‘Justice League’ for Top Thanksgiving Spot

Justice League” will have serious company at the Thanksgiving holiday box office as Disney-Pixar launches “Coco” on Wednesday.

Estimates show the costly “Justice League” — which debuted with a decidedly disappointing $93.8 million opening weekend — pulling in around $60 million to $65 million at 4,051 locations for the five days while “Coco” is likely to finish in the $55 million to $60 million range at 3,948 venues.

“Justice League” took in $7.5 million on Monday to lift its four-day total to $101 million. It has a respectable B+ CinemaScore and is the fifth installment of its DC Extended Universe, aimed at duplicating the success of Disney-Marvel’s interconnected franchises. Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman along with Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg. Warner Bros. has not disclosed the production cost, which is believed to be as much as $300 million.

The opening weekend for “Justice League” was only the 55th highest of all time and the eighth highest of 2017. It’s now dealing with the perception that the DC superhero team-up doesn’t measure up to Marvel offerings such as “Thor: Ragnarok.” The third Thor movie has grossed $247 million in its first 17 days, a number which will probably take “Justice League” much longer to surpass. “Thor: Ragnarok” took in $21.7 million last weekend — a total that undoubtedly cut into the “Justice League” opening.

The Wednesday-Sunday period is prime time for moviegoing, particularly for opening Disney family titles. Disney’s “Frozen” set the record in 2013 with $93 million, followed by last year’s “Moana” with $82 million, “Toy Story 2” with $80 million and “Tangled” with $68 million.

“Coco” opens in nearly 2,800 3D locations, 106 premium large format and 268 locations offering the film in Spanish. Previews begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Unlike “Justice League,” critics have embraced “Coco” with a Rotten Tomatoes score that is currently 95% Fresh.

“Coco” is already a smash in Mexico with $48.8 million — the best gross of all time in that market — following its premiere at the Morelia Film Festival. The central character is Miguel, a 12-year-old who dreams of becoming a musician and is voiced by Anthony Gonzalez. He meets a trickster named Hector (Gael García Bernal) and sets off to find out the real story behind Miguel’s family history in the Land of the Dead.

Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) directed and Adrian Molina (story artist on “Monsters University”) co-directed.

The weekend will also see Sony’s expansion of Denzel Washington’s legal thriller “Roman J. Israel Esq.” to 1,600 locations from four. The film, which opened with $61,999 over the weekend, isn’t showing much traction among moviegoers and is expected to take in about $5 million. “Roman Israel” has a $22 million price with multiple co-financiers (MACRO, Topic, Cross Creek Pictures, Bron, and The Culture China – Image Nation Abu Dhabi Content Fund).

Overall domestic moviegoing should be robust. Last year’s five-day Thanksgiving weekend saw total grosses his $260.5 million with “Moana” opening with $82 million, and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” taking in $65 million in its second weekend — marking fifth best Thanksgiving holiday of all time. The record was set in 2013 at $294 million when the second weekend of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” took in $109 million and “Frozen” opened with $93 million.

Lionsgate’s inspirational drama “Wonder” is also expected to show decent traction in its second weekend after opening far above expectations at $27.5 million at 3,096 sites. “Wonder,” starring Jacob Tremblay as a fifth-grader with a facial deformity, took in a solid $4 million on Monday.

Participant Media co-financed and produced “Wonder,” which has surpassed “The Help” as the largest North American debut for Participant. The company partnered with Lionsgate, City of Kindness, SoulPancake and WE.org on a nationwide social impact campaign centered on the film’s #ChooseKind messaging.

“Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of the most important periods of the box office year and marks the spiritual start of the holiday moviegoing season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “This year may rank among one of the higher grossing frames coming  in the aftermath of a stronger than usual $200 million ‘Justice League’ and ‘Wonder’-powered pre-holiday weekend.”

Overall business topped $200 million for the weekend — a robust 27.8% gain over the same weekend a year ago. The year-to-date deficit dropped from 5% to 4.3% in one week with the current 2017 total at 9.39 billion, according to comScore. 

“A tasty box office start for ‘Coco’ on Wednesday along with a host of powerful holdovers will help the Industry with some much-needed good news and forward momentum as we enter the home stretch of what has been a particularly perplexing year for the business,” Dergarabedian added.

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