Disney's homegrown animated family film Moana feasted at the Wednesday box-office launch, grossing $15.7 million from 3,875 theaters to easily top the chart and putting it on course to gross $87 million or more over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, according to early projections.
That would mark the second-best holiday opening of all time after fellow Disney title Frozen ($93.6 million) and the third best showing of any film after The Hunger Games - Catching Fire ($109.9 million) and Frozen.
Moana sports glowing reviews and an A CinemaScore. Newcomer Auli'i Cravalho voices the role of the movie title's heroine, Moana, a young princess living in ancient Polynesia who teams up with a demigod, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, in order to save her people. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music with Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancina.
The contest with Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling opened last weekend, won't even be close. Fantastic Beasts earned $11 million Friday from 4,144 theaters for a projected five-day gross of $60 million-$65 million. The movie has already amassed noth of $250 million at the global box office.
Among the other new films opening nationwide over the long Thanksgiving corridor, it is looking like famine for Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply, which is projected to earn only $2 million-$3 million 2,382 runs for the five days.
Rules Don't Apply is Beatty's ode to old Hollywood and tells the story of a young woman (Lily Collins) and man (Alden Ehrenreich) who work for Howard Hughes. In addition to directing, Beatty plays Hughes in his first feature role since 2001's Town & Country. Annette Bening, Beatty's wife, and Matthew Broderick also star.
Elsewhere, Robert Zemeckis' World War II spy thriller Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, appears headed for a five-day launch of $15 million to $18 million from 3,160 theaters. In the pic, Pitt plays a U.S. intelligence officer living in London who discovers that his French wife (Cotillard) may not be the kindred spy he thought she was. Allied is the first test of Pitt's star status following his divorce from Angelina Jolie.
Allied is coming in somewhat behind expectations; Bad Santa 2, even more so. The black comedy - once again starring Billy Bob Thornton as the ultimate anti-holiday hero, Willie Soke - hoped to open in the mid-teens, but may struggle to get to $10 million from 2,920 theaters. Mark S. Waters directed the sequel, which also stars Kathy Bates, Tony Cox and Brett Kelly. Bad Santa was a sleeper hit when it opened to $16 million over the long Thanksgiving corridor in 2003 and topped out at $60 million domestically.