The 2016 Thanksgiving holiday box-office frame was a tale of feast or famine.
In another huge win for animated films - and Disney - Moana scored one of the best five-day Thanksgiving showings of all time with $81.1 million from 3,875 theaters, enough to conquer holdover Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which placed No. 2 in its second outing with $65.8 million from 4,144 theaters for a domestic total of $156.2 million.
Overseas, Fantastic Beasts topped the chart with a pleasing $132 million for a $317.5 million cume and global haul of $473.7 million. Moana is rolling out slowly abroad, where it took in $16.3 million over the weekend from its first handful of territories, including $12.3 million in China, where it was trounced by Fantastic Beasts' $41.1 million start.
If the $81.1 million domestic estimate holds, Moana will boast the No. 2 Thanksgiving launch of all time behind fellow Disney title Frozen ($93.6 million), not accounting for inflation. (Currently, Toy Story 2 is No. 2 with $80.1 million.) Among all films, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire remains the five-day Thanksgiving record holder with $109.9 million.
Moana has everything going for it: glowing reviews; an A CinemaScore; Dwayne Johnson, who voices a demigod enlisted by a fierce young Polynesian princess; and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music with Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancina. Newcomer Auli'i Cravalho voices the title character. Disney scored a second victory over Thanksgiving as Doctor Strange crossed $616 million globally, including a third-place finish domestically with a five-day gross of $18.9 million.
At the other end of the spectrum, Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply bombed with a five-day gross of $2.2 million from 2,382 theaters, one of the worst starts ever for a title going out in more than 2,000 theaters. New Regency backed the $27 million film, which is distributed by Fox. Another major Hollywood studio release failing miserably is Sony/TriStar and Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which fell 79 percent in its second weekend to $192,000 for a domestic total of $1.6 million.
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 in the film, which earned a B+ CinemaScore.
Broad Green Pictures and Miramax's raunchy black comedy Bad Santa 2 also made a poor showing. The $26 million film - once again starring Billy Bob Thornton as the ultimate anti-holiday hero, Willie Soke - hoped to debut in the mid-teen millions, but instead posted a five-day opening of just $9 million to place No. 7.
Mark S. Waters directed the sequel, which also stars Kathy Bates, Tony Cox and Brett Kelly. Bad Santa was a sleeper hit when it bowed to $16 million over the long Thanksgiving corridor in 2003 and topped out at $60 million domestically. The pic has been snubbed by both critics and moviegoers, who gave it a C+ CinemaScore.
Robert Zemeckis' World War II spy thriller Allied fared the best after Moana, but even it disappointed after failing to win over many critics and earning a B CinemaScore. The Paramount film, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, opened to $18 million from 3,160 theaters over the five days. Allied, which cost $85 million to make, placed No. 4.
In the pic, Pitt plays an 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. Overseas, the movie debuted to a $9.4 million from its first 23 markets representing 34 percent of the marketplace, including a $2.8 million launch in the U.K.
The specialty box office saw a flurry of activity as awards contenders either launched or expanded. Among new openers, The Weinstein Co. and See-Saw's Lion debuted Friday in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, grossing $128,368 for a pleasing location average of $32,092.
Manchester by the Sea, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, expanded successfully in its second weekend, earning $1.3 million from 48 theaters for a location average of $26,048.
Focus Features' Nocturnal Animals was more subdued as it expanded into 127 theaters in its sophomore outing, grossing $816,000 for the three days for a location average of $6,425.
A24's Moonlight continues to impress, finishing its sixth weekend in limited release with a domestic total of of $8.7 million.
Focus Features' Loving finishes its fourth weekend with a total $4.1 million.
The following box-office chart reflects Comscore's three-day estimates for Friday through Sunday.