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Weekend Box Office: Moana Sails to Thanksgiving Win, Allied, Bad Santa 2, Rules All Disappoint

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By Chris Kavan - 11/27/16 at 07:32 PM CT

If there was one winner over the long Thanksgiving weekend, it was Disney. Doctor Strange crossed a major milestone while the animated Moana had one of the best Thanksgiving weekends on record. Too bad the rest of the wide release failed to drum up much interest. Even with Moana's big win, the box office was still down $1.2 million compared to Thanksgiving weekend last year, though the $257 million weekend fell just outside the top five biggest grossing Thanksgiving weekends on record, so it still wasn't that bad. If any of the other new films could have broken out, we'd be singing a different tune, but as it stands, we'll have to take what we can get.

1) MOANA

The latest animated title from Disney continued their winning steak, which should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. The tropical Moana was welcome breath of fresh air to the box office, as it took in $55.5 million for the weekend for a Thanksgiving total of $81.1 million. That represents the second best Wednesday-Sunday Thanksgiving weekend on record, behind Frozen ($93.5 million) and ahead of Toy Story 2 ($80.1 million). In fact, Disney now can claim 9 out of 10 of the top Thanksgiving weekends of all time. Because of a somewhat front-loaded weekend, it only ranks 6th among Friday-Sunday totals but it's still the third-best Disney animated opening behind Zootopia and Big Hero 6 (and if actuals give it an extra $700,000 on Monday, it will rise to second). Moana now also holds the record for best Tuesday preview opening ($2.6 million) as well as the best single Thanksgiving opening ($15.58 million). Records or no, Moana is another certified hit for Disney with audiences and critics alike praising it. It earned an "A" Cinemascore among audiences - no surprise that it was made up of 72% families, 55% female and 34% under 12. It's biggest competition looks to be Sing, which doesn't hit until December 21st (I think the new Star Wars is going to be too dark to bring in large family crowds). While it was front-loaded for an animated feature, $250 million seems like a pretty safe bet. It only opened to a handful of international screens, so it has $97.4 million worldwide, a total that will surely grow as it expands.

2) FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Even in the face of Disney's next, big animated hit, Fantastic Beasts had a pretty good second weekend. Dipping just 39.4%, the wizarding world spinoff took in $45.1 million ($67.76 for the Thanksgiving holiday frame) for a new total of $156.22 million - and crossing that $150 million mark easily in the process. That bests the 10-day total for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($148 million), though I'm sure the extra-long holiday weekend certainly helped. In any case, even if it is targeting an older crowd, they seem to be more than willing to show up and it's looking very rosy for the future of this franchise. In any case, Fantastic Beasts is looking at a total in the $230-$250 million range - with its biggest threat being the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, when it drops December 16. If it can make it over that threat, it could have a very happy new year indeed.

3) DOCTOR STRANGE

Moana wasn't the only bright spot for Disney over the weekend. Marvel's latest superhero, Doctor Strange, also had a very good Thanksgiving. Dipping a very light 24.7% after a bigger-than-expected third-weekend drop, Doctor Strange crossed the $200 million mark with a $13.37 million weekend ($18.85 over the holiday) and new total of $205.1 million. That makes this the tenth film in the MCU to cross $200 million - and it has already topped Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Incredible Hulk and it needs a scant $1.3 million to top Thor: The Dark World. Worldwide it sits at $615 million and it has now topped Iron Man ($585 million) as the best single hero story in the MCU. It will, in short order, also pass Iron Man 2 ($623 million) on the global market. Doctor Strange should also play well over the next few weeks as it aims for $250 million as well.

4) ALLIED

The only other new film to crack the top five this weekend was the Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard war-time drama/romance, Allied. It still only brought in $13 million ($18 million for the holiday), which was below even the $20 million it was expecting. The $85 million production doesn't look to recoup its cost domestically and better hope for a decent foreign total (it only opened in a few markets for a $9.3 million total thus far) if it wants any kind of long-term prospects. For Brad Pitt, it was below the openings for both Moneyball ($19 million) and Fury ($23 million). It also brought in mostly adults (85% over 25) who could only muster up a "B" Cinemascore. Considering the continued dearth of adult-targeting films on the market, Allied just wasn't able to differentiate itself from the crowds, and I'm sure the controversy following Pitt's divorce didn't help matters. This isn't going to stick around long - though it at least did better than the other two wide-release films (see below - outside the top five for the gritty details).

5) ARRIVAL

Hanging around the top five, Arrival dipped less than 10% (7.3% to be exact) and brought in $11.25 million ($15.6 million for the holiday) for a new total of $62.39 million. It continues to build up well beyond its $47 million budget as it creeps ever closer to that $75 million milestone. As I said, adult-targeting dramas are everywhere, but Arrival has been holding its own. It will probably do fine until Miss Sloan and, later, Rogue One hit, but for the meantime, it's looking very good for Arrival to stick around for at least a week or two more.

Outside the top five: Now for the depressing news. First up, Bad Santa 2 got hammered by critics and mostly ignored by audiences. Billy Bob Thornton should have stuck to the original, as this sequel landed in 8th place with $6.1 million ($9.03 million for the entire holiday). It just goes to show trying to make a sequel out of a cult classic (see also Anchorman 2 and Zoolander 2 - or better yet, don't) is a risky venture and rarely pays off. This one isn't going to hit its $25 million budget, let alone come anywhere close to the $60 million total the original wound up making.

If Bad Santa 2 was disappointing, Rules Don't Apply was a downright bomb. Warren Beatty has been out of the spotlight for several years, and this was essentially a passion project. But it wound up earning a disastrous $1.575 million ($2.175 for the holiday) in 12th place. That officially makes it the worst wide-opening film of 2016 (at a dismal $661 per-theater average) and the sixth-worst opening for any film premiering in 2000+ theaters. In other words, a bomb of epic proportions. It won't get anywhere close to its $25 million budget.

In better news, the much talked-about, Oscar-worthy Manchester By the Sea expanded from 4 to 48 theaters and took a big 387.4% increase (and went from 21st to 14th place in the process) for a $1.25 million weekend and new $1.65 million total.

The limited release king was Lion, which opened in four theaters with $128,368 for a nice $32,092 per-theater average.

Next week brings only one new wide-release, and it shouldn't make that big of impact on the box office. That would be the horror film Incarnate.

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