Moana Is Yet Another Hit For The House of the Mouse On America’s Turkey Day, It Looks Like Fantastic Beasts Is Also A Leggy Beast and Bad Santa 2 Loads Up On The Box Office Coal

Black Friday has been anything but bleak for Disney the past few years. With their latest animated hit Moana dominating the North American box office, Disney now owns eight of the top ten grossing releases on America’s Thanksgiving weekend. Since movies are released on the Wednesday to take advantage of the holiday, Black Friday shopping insanity and the long holiday weekend, numbers over the course of America’s thanksgiving weekend are tough to analyze. It’s useful then to use reference the performance of previous blockbusters released the same time.

Moana’s 56.6 million performance over the three-day weekend may not look that sexy, but the fact is it took in 82 million over it’s first five days. To add some context to that, the only Disney movie to perform better over that same five day period was 2013 uber-hit Frozen. You may recall that particular flick went on to become the highest grossing animated movie in history with a jaw dropping global take of 1.27 billion dollars. While its unlikely Moana will equal that level of success, strong foreign gross could give it a shot at joining the billion-dollar club. For those keeping score, Disney already had two animated blockbusters join that prestigious list this year with Zootopia and Finding Dory. Moana’s strong day-to-day performance bodes well for its long-term prospects almost as much as the fact that it has a three-week window before it faces anything that will genuinely compete for family movie going dollars.

Last week I postured that we could only truly gage Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s long term earning power by its second weekend hold. It’s opening was strong but raised more questions than it answered. Well, we got those answers this weekend. Beasts saw a second frame drop of only 39% despite the competition from Moana and a slate of other Thanksgiving releases. Its 45 million dollar haul this weekend gives it a two-week total of 156 million domestically but it has now passed 470 million worldwide thanks to a 318 million dollar foreign gross. After ten days it has essentially paid for itself, 180 million dollar budget and all. Everything now is pure box office gravy and it, like Moana, it will benefit from the weeks long berth between it and Star Wars: Rogue One.

The Leftovers

While Disney was basking in the glow of it’s traditional holiday dominance courtesy of Moana, super hero flick Doctor Strange was also giving them something to toast. Strange has now broken the 200 million dollar mark domestically and has passed 616 million worldwide. It is now the highest grossing solo hero origin story in Marvel’s impressive (and expanding) catalogue and by this time next week it may have also caught Iron Man 2 and Thor: Dark World. Surprisingly enough, it’s also within striking distance of Captain America: Winter Soldier’s global tally. Anyone who didn’t know who Doctor Strange was before this month does now.

Speaking of anemic weekend-to-weekend box office drops, Paramount’s Arrival dipped only 6%. No, that wasn’t a typo. Arrival definitely benefitted from being the grown up in the room, holding on to fifth spot in its third frame and it now has an impressive domestic total of 62 million. Not great but not bad for a smart, small budget sci-fi release.

Trolls looks like it may finally be petering out, but not after grossing 135 million domestically. And by this time next week it will have broken the 300 million mark worldwide. Considering this movie was sandwiched in with some of the biggest releases of the year and wasn’t supposed to do that good anyway, this is a solid for both DreamWorks Animation and Fox. And 90’s nostalgia. And random singing.

Almost Christmas came in eighth and has now doubled its production budget of 17 million, while Hacksaw Ridge was less than 180,000 behind in ninth. Mel Gibson’s war drama/comeback project now has 52 million under its belt and looks like it has completed Gibson’s fairy tale return. Rounding out the top ten was The Edge of Seventeen, which managed a decent second weekend after it’s disappointing debut last week. STX probably won’t turn a profit on Seventeen, but they won’t lose their shirt either.

And Speaking of Disappointing Debuts

Two newcomers had little to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and they may have their leading men to blame. Let’s start with Brad Pitt’s spy thriller Allied. Allied wasn’t supposed to break any records, but with a 85 million dollar price tag, it should have definitely opened higher than fourth and with more than 17 million. To add extra salt to the wound, the award buzz everyone thought was going to go part and parcel with Allied has yet to materialize. Pitt’s brand has suffered as a result of his high profile divorce from Angelina Jolie and the resulting publicity fallout. Was that the reason behind Allied’s dismal performance? If so Pitt may need to ask Gibson for some image advice.

But Allied doesn’t hold a candle to Bad Santa 2. The sequel to 2003’s breakout raunch comedy premiered in seventh place, managing only 9.1 million over Thanksgiving. Even though it was made on the cheap for only 26 million, it looks like it’s definitely on its way to losing millions and won’t come anywhere to close to matching the original’s 60 million domestic haul. This was the stereotypical sequel no one asked for and Billy Bob Thornton’s star has fallen pretty far in the thirteen years between the two films. You can toss Santa 2 on the nostalgic junk heap with other failed sequels like Independence Day Resurgence and Thornton, whose rep in Hollywood was flushed down the toilet years ago, can probably get in the image repair line behind Pitt.

Until next week stay safe and don’t cheap out on the tinsel.

Numbers Box Office Mojo
Image Walt Disney Pictures