‘Moana’ cruises with $81.1M Thanks­giv­ing week­end

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Jake Coyle AP Film Writer

NEW YORK » Dis­ney’s South Pa­cific an­i­mated tale “Moana” fell short of a “Frozen”sized de­but but nev­er­the­less dom­i­nated the Thanks­giv­ing box of­fice with an es­ti­mated $81.1 mil­lion over the five-day week­end.

The well-re­viewed “Moana,” about a princess’s myth­i­cal jour­ney in an­cient Poly­ne­sia, earned $55.5 mil­lion from Fri­day to Sun­day in North Amer­ica, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. Though it didn’t match the 2013 Thanks­giv­ing re­lease of “Frozen” ($93.6 mil­lion over five days in 2013), “Moana” (“MWAH-nah”) scored the sec­ond-high­est Turkey Day de­but ever.

Boosted by the star power of Dwayne John­son and the ap­peal of orig­i­nal songs from Lin-Manuel Mi­randa of “Hamil­ton,” ‘’Moana” landed Dis­ney an­other big hit in a year full of them. The stu­dio has notched four of the top six films (“Find­ing Dory,” ‘’Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War,” ‘’Zootopia,” ‘’The Jun­gle Book”) and still has “Star Wars: Rogue One” com­ing in De­cem­ber.

“If you look at the track record of this year, there’s def­i­nitely a cor­re­la­tion to the films that have bro­ken out and be­come hits,” said Dave Hol­lis, head of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion at Dis­ney. “Each of (Dis­ney’s top per­form­ers) had Rot­ten Toma­toes scores in the 90 per­cent range, each of them had Cine­maS­cores that were As. If you make some­thing that has great story and huge scale and is ul­ti­mately liv­ing un­der the brand, the chances of hav­ing suc­cess are over­whelm­ingly higher.”

Fall­ing to sec­ond was J.K. Rowling’s “Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which earned $65.8 mil­lion over the five-day week­end and $45.1 mil­lion over the three-day week­end. The Harry Pot­ter spinoff, from Warner Bros., has brought in $156.2 mil­lion in two weeks. Over­seas, “Fan­tas­tic Beasts,” de­buted in China, where its $41.1 mil­lion fu­eled a week­end haul of $132 mil­lion in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Those two block­busters far out­paced more stardriven films.

The Brad Pitt-Mar­ion Cotil­lard World War II ro­mance “Al­lied” opened with a medi­ocre $18 mil­lion over five days. The Paramount Pic­tures re­lease, di­rected by Robert Ze­meckis, cost a hefty $85 mil­lion to make. But for a proudly old-fash­ioned film built around the ap­peal of its stars, “Al­lied” had to largely do with­out Pitt’s pro­mo­tional pres­ence. The ac­tor’s di­vorce pro­ceed­ings from Angelina Jolie largely eclipsed the film, which drew an au­di­ence 85 per­cent over the age of 25.

“It played older and older au­di­ences don’t storm the the­aters week­end one. I think they’re go­ing to take their time,” said Kyle Davies, Paramount’s head of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion. “There’s not a big in­flux of new movies un­til you get closer to Christ­mas, so we think that’s good for the playa­bil­ity of the pic­ture.”

But War­ren Beatty’s first film in 15 years, the 1950s Hol­ly­wood com­edy “Rules Don’t Ap­ply,” res­o­lutely bombed with $2.2 mil­lion over the five-day week­end. Writ­ten and di­rected by Beatty, who also costars as Howard Hughes, “Rules Don’t Ap­ply” is the 79-year-old star’s first di­rected fea­ture since 1998’s “Bul­worth.” Though Beatty has worked hard to push the movie (made for about $25 mil­lion), its slim to­tal de­spite play­ing on 2,382 screens is one of the worst de­buts of a wide re­lease in re­cent years.

“Bad Santa 2,” from Broad Green and Mi­ra­max, didn’t flop as badly as “Rules Don’t Ap­ply,” but it pulled in a scant $9 mil­lion over five days. The se­quel, again star­ring Billy Bob Thorn­ton, comes 13 years af­ter the 2003 orig­i­nal.

In lim­ited re­lease, a num­ber of po­ten­tial awards contenders packed the­aters. De­but­ing on a hand­ful of screens were “Lion” ($32,092 per-screen av­er­age), with Dev Pa­tel, and “Miss Sloane” ($21,000 per-screen av­er­age), with Jes­sica Chas­tain. Ex­pand­ing from four to 48 screens was “Manch­ester by the Sea,” star­ring Casey Af­fleck. It took in $1.3 mil­lion with a per-screen av­er­age of $26,048.

The hol­i­day week­end was the sixth big­gest Thanks­giv­ing at the box of­fice, ac­cord­ing to comS­core, fall­ing slightly be­hind most re­cent years. But the fairly strong busi­ness, led by well­re­viewed tent pole re­leases, con­tin­ued what’s been a healthy fall sea­son, up 4.5 per­cent from last year.

“I don’t think you could find a bet­ter line-up in the­aters right now,” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for comS­core. “I’d rather see a group of great movies maybe not break­ing a record than a group of ter­ri­ble movies break­ing records left and right. This is bet­ter for the long term. This cre­ates good­will.”


This im­age re­leased by Dis­ney shows char­ac­ters Maui, voiced by Dwayne John­son, right, and Moana, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, in a scene from the an­i­mated film “Moana.”

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