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Weekend Box Office: Moana Conquers Office Christmas Party, La La Land Huge in Limited Debut

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By Chris Kavan - 12/11/16 at 11:46 PM CT

It was a three-peat win for Dinsey's animated Moana, which once again sailed passed the competition for the top spot at the box office. Still, it was a narrow victory with Office Christmast Party having a strong opening. The same couldn't be said for the two new wider opening films. Miss Sloane was an outright disaster while Nocturnal Animals delivered solid if not knockout results.The biggest news on the limited front was La La Land, which came in red hot (off many glowing reviews) and set the 2016 record for per-theater average. The weekend top 12 earned $76.4 million, which is down 12.8% compared to last week and down 10% over the same weekend last year.

1) MOANA

Coming out on top for the third straight weekend, Disney's animated Moana had a light 33.4% drop, adding $18.84 million to its total. The film has hit $145 million in the U.S. - right in line with Toy Story 2, which had $140 million through the same point. Although the upcoming Rogue One and Sing will likely take some wind out of its sails - the Polynesian-inspired tale should be able to cozy up to the $250 million mark before it finally exits theaters. On the international front, it has $238 million worldwide as it continues to expand. While it will obviously not have near the fortitude of Frozen, Moana is still going to bank a lot, and Disney has proven again they are still the top dog for animation.

2) OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY

So what if Office Christmas Party couldn't quite topple Moana? The comedy still has earned a distinction. In second place with $17.5 million, Office Christmas Party can now claim the title for best opening weekend for a holiday-themed movie to open in December. It urns out a lot of the big holiday guns have dropped in November (Home Alone, Elf and The Saunta Clause among them). The opening was also right along with R-rated comedies How to Be Single and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Should it follow the same pattern, it is likely to wind up in the $45 million range, though maybe the holiday theme will propel it to $50 million plus. In any case, opening audiences, 56% of which was male and 85% over 25, gave the film a "B" Cinemascore. The so-so result isn't likely to drive much in the way of word-of-mouth, but anyone seeking comedy really has no place else to turn.

3) FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

With the party in full swing, Fantastic Beasts took a step down, dropping 40.5% and landing in third place with $10.78 million. That gives the Potterverse film a new total of $199.3 million - it should cross that magical $200 million mark in the next day. Again, it will face a huge block when Rogue One drops, but it should be able to claw its way to the $225 million mark. It has done well overseas as well, as its grand total world-wide is now up to an enchanting $680 million. No, it's probably not going to hit $1 billion, but for a spinoff series, this is looking pretty good (and with a purported five-picture deal coming, Warner Bros. must be breathing a huge sigh of relief).

4) ARRIVAL

Once again, adults choose to stick with an old, trusted friend rather than to be bothered by any newcomers. Arrival, the sci-fi drama starring Amy Adams, continues to play well. In fact, it had the best hold out of any film in the top 12 (not counting limited release expansions), dipping a light 23%. Its $5.6 million weekend gives the film a new total of $81.45 million and I'm pulling for it mighty hard to ultimately wind up doubling its $47 million budget. The film actually added 200 theaters (people must have heard it is that good) - in its fifth weekend out no less. Should it wind up attracting a few Oscar nods, it could climb in to the $100 million range. This is one of those slow-burning, adult-targeting dramas that will stay solid through the rest of the year (and possibly beyond). No mean feat with so much competition around.

5) DOCTOR STRANGE

Marvel's latest managed to keep a hold of its fifth-place position. Dipping 30.7%, Doctor Strange conjured up $4.63 million in its sixth weekend, raising its total to $222.36 million. It has made $645.7 million on the global front which puts it at seventh place among all the MCU releases, topping Thor: The Dark World at $644.6 million. This is likely going to take an even bigger hit than the rest of the top five after Rogue One drops, but given how big it has broken out, Doctor Strange is certainly in the win category.

Outside the top five: Two films got an expansion this week and neither one really did all that great. Nocturnal Animals was the better of the two. Tom Ford's dark, gritty thriller jumped from 16th to 7th place, earning $3.19 million for a new total of $6.2 million. The crowded adult box office likely led to its middling performance. Worse off was Miss Sloane, the Jessica Chastain-led political thriller only managed an 11th place $1.9 million performance and stands at a little over $2 million total. Both films are going to have a very short time at the box office.

But ending on a much better note, the limited release of awards-season highlight La La Land was huge, bringing in $855,000 (15th place) from just five theaters - a $171,000 per-theater average that is the best of 2016 and one of the best limited openings of all time. Among all films, it was the 10th largest and among live action, third best (behind Grand Budapest Hotel with a $202,000 average and Kevin Smith's road show of Red State at a $204,000). In any case, La La Land has the record for best average in a film opening on more than four screens (even with inflation thrown in the mix) and has all but locked in its status as an awards front-runner. As it expands, this should be able to make it anywhere in the $50-$100 million range as adults are going to gravitate towards this one.

Next week Rogue One is going to light up the box office while La La Land goes wide and Collateral Beauty looks to pack an emotional punch.

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