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Box office hits and misses: Disney’s ‘Moana’ sails to huge, five-day holiday weekend

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Theater audiences feasted on Disney’s latest animated feature over the Thanksgiving weekend, propelling the critically praised Moana to the second biggest five-day opening for any film released during the November holiday.

The film, which casts Dwayne Johnson as a Polynesian demigod assisting a young girl on a quest to save her people, raked in $81.1 million across the five-day span encompassing the Thanksgiving holiday and the subsequent weekend. This put the film under the record-setting $93.6 million that Disney’s Frozen earned over the same five-day span in 2013, and ahead of the $80.1 million opening for Toy Story 2 over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1999.

The success of Moana over the Thanksgiving holiday continued a trend set by Disney over the years, with nine of the top ten highest-grossing films over the five-day span — and the three-day span following the holiday — all hailing from the studio. It wasn’t all sunshine and surf for the weekend’s new releases, though.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Moana $81.1M $81.1M $97.4M
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them $65.7M $156.2M $473.7M
3. Doctor Strange $18.8M $205M $615.9M
4. Allied $18M $18M $27.4M
5. Arrival $15.6M $62.3M $93.2M
6. Trolls $14.2M $135.1M $291M
7. Almost Christmas $9.5M $36.6M $36.7M
8. Bad Santa 2 $9M $9M $9M
9. Hacksaw Ridge $7.7M $52.2M $52.2M
10. The Edge of Seventeen $4.2M $10.2M $10.2M

Neither Brad Pitt’s war drama Allied nor Billy Bob Thornton’s raunchy sequel Bad Santa 2 managed to make good on their premieres, with the former failing to cross $20 million domestically and the latter failing to surpass $10 million. Both movies opened well below their respective studios’ hopes, with Allied in particular under-shooting its $85 million budget.

As for the rest of the weekend’s top ten films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them dropped to second place with a respectable $65.7 million in U.S. theaters and a worldwide gross that now sits at approximately $473.7 million — good for 13th place among the year’s highest-grossing films in only its second week in theaters. The five-day weekend’s third-place film, Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange, added another $18.8 million to its domestic total and moved past the entire domestic grosses of fellow Marvel movies Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk.

Also enjoying a positive week-to-week evolution was acclaimed alien-encounter film Arrival, which matched its overwhelmingly positive reviews with a $15.6 million third weekend in theaters — a drop of only 7.3 percent from the prior weekend and a great indication that the well-received film will have a long, productive run.

The upcoming weekend is a relatively light one for new releases, with Natalie Portman’s biopic Jackie — in which she plays former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy — and Shia LaBeouf’s war drama Man Down debuting as the most high-profile new films. Expect to see many of this week’s biggest films continue to top the box-office chart.

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