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New in Theaters November 23: Moana, Allied, Bad Santa 2, Rules Don't Apply

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By Chris Kavan - 11/23/16 at 05:22 PM CT

It's that time of year again - to give thanks, food, family and, of course, an extended box office weekend to enjoy. Whose going to enjoy it the most? My guess is Disney, who has their next animated feature, Moana, set to dominate the long holiday time frame. If animation isn't your thing, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard team up for a spy drama/romance, you have Billy Bob Thonrton returning as the world's most dispicable Santa and future Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich exploring a forbidden romance in the golden age of Hollywood in Rules Don't Apply. With Fantastic Beasts still prowling around, I think this could be a very profitable extended weekend for Hollywood.

MOANA Disney rarely makes a misstep when it comes to animation, and Moana looks to add to their winning streak. Instead of relying on an existing property, Disney took somewhat of risk by adopting an original tale (Polynesian-inspired) about a young girl (voiced by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) who sets off on a tropical voyage with a swaggering demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) in order to reverse a curse set upon her village. The film looks to be a colorful delight, with original music from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. If the record-breaking Tuesday previews of $2.6 million (doubling the previous best of $1.3 million set by The Good Dinosaur last year - as well as topping Thursday previews for Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia) is any indication, Moana could be a Thanksgiving record-breaker itself. I have no doubt it will top the box office in the long holiday frame, the question is going to be just how big is it going to open.

ALLIED The next best choice to come out on tope over at the crowded Thanksgiving box office looks to be the Pitt/Cotillard pairing in Allied. The actors play an intelligence office and French Resistance fighter who meet in North Africa behind enemy lines and reunite in London where they begin a relationship. When she is accused of being a spy, it throws everything in to turmoil. The picture has got a bit of an uphill battle since gossip would have you believe this film was partly responsible for the big breakup of Pitt and Jolie, even though there doesn't seem to be any evidence to suggest the like. In any case, it's a dark cloud hovering over the production and it could very well have an effect on the bottom line. It looks like a very competent drama and Pitt and Cotillard look like they have chemistry - in most cases I would say this is would be a mid-range hit, but it's hard to say where this is going to land for sure.

BAD SANTA 2 The first Bad Santa was a semi-hit, making over $60 million on a $23 million budget. Billy Bob Thornton starred as a conman, Willie Stokes, looking to rob department stores with his little helper (Tony Cox) but runs in to trouble after meeting a woman (Lauren Graham) and getting involved with a lonely kid (Brett Kelly). This time around, he is still a miserable drunk, all these years later, and now looks to take down a Chicago charity. The reason the first film worked is it was darkly funny, despite its rather depressing story. Hopefully this time around things will go just as well - Kathy Bates joins as Willie's mother, while Christina Hendricks is the new bombshell. Octavia Spencer and Ryan Hansen round out the cast. It will probably wind up much like the first - making a bit off it's rather small budget ($26 million), a minor hit.

RULES DON'T APPLY The last major film for the long holiday weekend is Rules Don't Apply. Taking place in a the golden age of Hollywood, Alden Ehrenreich works as a driver for the eccentric billionaire filmmaker Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) and Lily Collins plays Marla Mabrey a new aspiring actress. Hughes forbids his employees from seeing one another, but the soon-to-be married devout Methodist driver becomes instantly attracted to Mabrey, putting both their employment and convictions to the test. Religion, romance, Hollywood - I'm sure for a certain audience this will be the best of every world. For me, it looks a bit too sweet to be anything more than a trifle. I suspect it's going to find it tough to find a big audience, but it could carve out a nice niche.

It's going to be a busy few days and it will be interesting to see how high Moana can soar and if any other films, new or holdovers, can compete.


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