Box Office: Disney’s ‘Moana’ Sets Sail With Record-Breaking $2.6 Million on Tuesday

Dave McNary
Variety

Kicking off the Thanksgiving holiday break with gusto, Disney’s animated adventure “Moana” opened with plenty of box office power and took in $2.6 million at Tuesday night preview showings starting at 7 p.m. in North America.

The “Moana” gross doubled the $1.3 million Tuesday preview record set last year by Disney’s “The Good Dinosaur.” It’s also far above the $1.2 million preview gross from “Frozen,” the $1.4 million Thursday preview total for “Big Hero 6” and the $1.7 million Thursday preview for “Zootopia” in March.

“Moana” is expected to easily top the holdover numbers for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday along with the openings for Brad Pitt’s thriller “Allied,” Billy Bob Thornton’s raucous comedy “Bad Santa 2” and Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes comedy-drama “Rules Don’t Apply.”

“Allied” took in $600,000 at Tuesday night previews, comparable to “Bridge of Spies” with $500,000 on its way to $15.4 million opening last year. “Bad Santa 2” took in $350,000 at 1,969 sites in previews.

“Moana,” centered on the journey of a Polynesian teenage girl, is expected to dominate moviegoing with about $75 million at 3,875 locations during the five days. Reviewers have embraced “Moana” with a 99% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film introduces Auli’i Cravalho as the voice of Moana and features Dwayne Johnson as Maui with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton.”

The biggest competition for “Moana” will be the second week of Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which debuted last weekend to $74.4 million and tacked on $6.8 million on Monday and $9.3 million on Tuesday. Most box office watchers expect the fantasy film to pull in between $50 million to $60 million for the five-day holiday stretch.

“Allied,” starring Pitt and Marion Cotillard as husband and wife during World War II,  should pull in $20 million for the five-day period. Paramount will release the film at 3,160 locations. It will battle the fourth weekend of DreamWorks Animations’s “Trolls” and the third weekend of Disney’s “Doctor Strange” for third place.

“Bad Santa 2,” opening 13 years after the 2003 original, sees Thornton return  as the foul-mouthed title character with Kathy Bates taking on the role of his more foul-mouthed mother. Broad Green and Miramax teamed on the picture, which should make $16 million over the five-day holiday.

Fox is releasing “Rules Don’t Apply,” a romantic drama that’s Beatty’s first directing gig since 1998’s “Bulworth.” Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins play a couple who fall in love in 1958 while working for billionaire Howard Hughes (portrayed by Beatty). “Rules Don’t Apply” is expected to bring in $8 million at around 2,300 sites over its first five days.

“Moana” is the third animated film released this year by Disney following “Zootopia” and “Finding Dory” — both which topped $1 billion in worldwide grosses.

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