Disney's animated film Moana sailed to a record $2.6 million in previews Tuesday night as it and a trio of films kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Robert Zemeckis' World War II spy thriller Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard; director Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply; and the R-rated black comedy Bad Santa 2 also are opening Wednesday for the holiday weekend.
Disney Animation Studios' Moana topped the previous Tuesday preview record of $1.3 million held by The Good Dinosaur. Over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday, Disney's and Pixar's The Good Dinosaur earned $1.3 million in previews on its way to a $56 million debut over the five-day period (the final Hunger Games film took the No. 1 spot that weekend). In 2014, Big Hero 6 earned $1.4 million in its Thursday debut also in November (although not over the Thanksgiving weekend) and had a domestic debut of $56 million. In 2013, the record-breaking Frozen earned $1.2 million on its opening Tuesday on its way to the huge $93.9 million opening weekend.
Moana is projected to gross $75 million or more over the five-day holiday frame. The film centers on a young Polynesian woman (Auli'i Cravalho) who sets off to save her island with the help of a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson). Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music with Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancina.
Warner Bros.' Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earned an estimated $9.3 million Tuesday. The film, which debuted to $74.4 million in North America this past weekend and $220 million worldwide, could give Moana a run for the No. 1 spot at the box office in its second week.
Broad Green Pictures and Miramax's comedy Bad Santa 2 earned $350,000 in previews, and is heading toward a debut in the mid-teen millions. The follow-up to the 2013 comedy returns Billy Bob Thornton to the lead role, playing a con man who plays Santa to rip off a charity on Christmas.
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.
Allied earned $600,000 on Tuesday night and is tracking to earn in the $20 million range, although Paramount is being more conservative and suggesting a bow in the mid- to high-teen millions. Pitt stars as an intelligence officer living in London who discovers that his French wife (Cotillard) may be a double agent.
Allied opens in 25 international markets as well this weekend.
Beatty's Rules Don't Apply earned $65,000 from 1,100 locations Tuesday. The drama is eyeing a $7 million to $8 million debut over the five-day holiday frame. Financed by New Regency and distributed by Fox, the film 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.