Monday Mixer: 'Moana' commands a huge Thanksgiving opening

Posted Monday, November 28, 2016 at 11:10 AM Central
Last updated Monday, November 28, 2016 at 11:11 AM Central

by John Couture

Hello gluttony, my old friend. Eating all the food has acquainted us again.

After stuffing ourselves full of turkey and braving the crowds of people to save 25 cents on an electric shaver, there's only one thing left to do: watch movies. The post-Thanksgiving weekend is one that is traditionally a profitable one for family films and this one was no different.

Personally, the whole family hit the megaplex on Saturday and finally took in Trolls. While the film was cute and certainly captured my kids' attention, it seemed to be a re-tread of many of the same themes that we saw in Angry Birds. I realize that you have to keep things simple in order to entertain children of all ages, but I think the truly spectacular children's films these days find a way to resonate with kids and adults alike.

The top of the box office provided all of the action and it was enough to push it just past last year's performance. Further down the top 15 though, it wasn't such a good weekend. Let's get into it, shall we?

Box Office 411

Disney owns Thanksgiving weekend and has for some time. This year was no different as their film Moana brought home $81.1 million over the five-day holiday weekend. It was good enough for the second largest five-day Thanksgiving opening ever. Disney now owns nine of the top ten largest Thanksgiving openings of all time.

The only film to open better than Moana over Thanksgiving was the runaway hit Frozen. While Disney would love to see Moana perform at the same trajectory as Frozen, I think it's pretty clear that Frozen was lightning in a bottle and Moana won't even sniff $400 million.

At this point, I think a total that approaches $350 million is more likely and I'm pretty sure that Disney will be happy with that performance. With Rogue One still in the wings, Disney has already earned more in 2016 at the box office than any other year and they could easily finish over a half billion dollars more than any previous year for them. Now, THAT is indeed impressive.

Of course, those numbers and records are a bit misleading as Warner Bros. has always tried to get a jump start on the Thanksgiving weekend by releasing their Harry Potter films a week before Thanksgiving. When you look at the top five-day numbers overall we see a bit of a different story.

Speaking of this story, you will see that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them turned in the 13th best five-day Thanksgiving weekend ever this weekend with $65 million in its second weekend of release. The Harry Potter spin-off has now grossed a total of $156 million in just 10 days of release. With a great second weekend, Fantastic Beasts is now definitely on track to finish higher among the list of Harry Potter films. I still think that $300 million will be a stretch, but a total north of $275 million is very much in play.

In fourth place, Allied debuted with $18 million over the long weekend which is a bit of a disappointment for the Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard World War II spy thriller. I know that Paramount was hoping for more than $20 million over the weekend and were secretly hoping that a total north of $25 would help propel it to a total over $100 million.

As it stands now, Allied will limp to $60 million, a bit shy of its $85 production budget. All personal drama aside, this weak performance will continue Brad Pitt's struggles at the box office. It will be interesting to see what choices he makes from here.

The sequel Bad Santa 2 brought in $9 million and failed to live up to the performance of its predecessor. At this point, the film will struggle to make it to $30 million or half of the original film's $60 million box office take. I think it's safe to say that this will be the last time we see Willie and his foul-mouthed Santa hijinks.

An off year for Fox continued to get worse as Rules Don't Apply notched the worst three-day opening for a wide release so far this year. The $2.2 million from the five-day weekend is so bad that it will most likely not even make it to $10 million before it finishes its run.

Quick Hitters

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