Disney’s “Frozen 2” opened with an impressive $8.5 million at North American locations on Thursday night.

It’s the biggest preview number since “Joker” took in $13.3 million on Oct. 3.

Sony’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” earned $900,000 from Thursday shows starting at 4:30 p.m., in 2,865 locations, while STX’s thriller “21 Bridges” scored $700,000 from Thursday previews.

“Frozen 2” is expected to dominate moviegoing this weekend with forecasts in the $100 million range at 4,400 domestic sites. The original “Frozen” was a smash hit as the highest-grossing animated movie ever, raking in $400 million in North America and $1.28 billion worldwide in 2013.

“Frozen 2” sees the return of the popular characters Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Olaf (Josh Gad) as they venture beyond the kingdom of Arendelle to find out why Elsa was born with magical powers. The directing team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also returned along with songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

“Frozen 2” has generated solid reviews, with a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with 90% for the original. Online ticket retailers Fandango and Atom reported record first-day pre-sales that topped previous marks for an animated movie.

Disney has opted to open “Frozen 2” during the pre-Thanksgiving weekend. The original “Frozen” launched on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2013 and set a holiday record with a five-day take of $93 million.

Sony’s feel-good drama “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, is projected to earn around $14 million from 3,235 venues. Critics have been dazzled by “A Beautiful Day,” which earned a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. The movie, which carries a $25 million price tag, chronicles the friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod (portrayed by Matthew Rhys).

The R-rated “21 Bridges,” starring Chadwick Boseman, has been forecast to launch around $13 million from 2,665 venues. Boseman portrays an NYPD detective who closes down every bridge in Manhattan as part of a citywide manhunt. “Avengers: Endgame” filmmakers Anthony and Joe Russo served as producers, while Brian Kirk directed. It carries a $33 million budget.

“Frozen 2” is expected to heat up what’s been a chilly November so far at North American multiplexes, down 27%, with only “Ford v Ferrari” performing above expectations. The racing drama, which has hit $40 million domestically in its first six days, will be battling for second place this weekend against “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “21 Bridges.”

The 2019 North American box office trails last year by 6.7%, with $9.71 billion as of Nov. 20, according to Comscore. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, noted that recent weeks have widened the gap.

“Hollywood is looking forward to a strong Thanksgiving week powered by the family-friendly ‘Frozen 2.’ And ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ should put some holiday sprit into what has been thus far a very sleepy month of November and get the season off to a desperately needed fairytale start,” he added.