Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” has the edge over Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s “Justice League” in a race for the top domestic box office spot with about $70 million for the Wednesday-Sunday Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Early estimates on Wednesday showed “Justice League” matching forecasts, which had been in the $60 million to $65 million range at 4,051 locations. The most recent numbers showed “Coco” was performing above pre-opening expectations, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range.
“Coco” was taking in about $12 million on Wednesday at 3,948 venues, which included $2.3 million in Tuesday night previews. “Justice League” is pegged to gross around $10.3 million on Wednesday, bringing its six-day total to about $122 million.
“Coco” is opening against the backdrop of Disney’s animation chief John Lasseter taking a six-month leave from the company over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women. Lasseter, who runs both Pixar and Disney Animation, apologized in an email to those “on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line.”
“Coco” is already a blockbuster in Mexico with $48.8 million — the biggest opening of all time in that market — following its Oct. 20 premiere at the Morelia Film Festival. The central character is a 12-year-old who dreams of becoming a musician and sets off to explore his 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 film. Disney-Pixar does not provide estimates of the production costs but industry sources say that the price tag is usually in the $175 million to $200 million range.
“Justice League” 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 Thanksgiving holiday period is prime time for moviegoing, particularly for opening Disney family titles. Disney’s “Frozen” set the record in 2013 with $93 million during the five days, followed by last year’s “Moana” with $82 million.
Lionsgate’s family drama “Wonder” should finish third with about $37 million over the five days. The Jacob Tremblay vehicle opened far above expectations with $27 million on its debut weekend and has taken in $37.2 million in its first five days.