Turkey Weekend Turns Moana, Fantastic Beasts into Winners
By John Hamann
November 27, 2016
What a weekend it has been – good food, and a whole lot of movie watching.
After last Thanksgiving when The Good Dinosaur opened to a disappointing $39.1 million over three days and $55.5 million over five days, I admit to having some concerns regarding the opening crop over this Thanksgiving weekend. Openers included Moana, Walt Disney Animation’s latest blockbuster, this time back with a princess and Dwayne Johnson in tow; Bad Santa 2, sequel to the 2003 comedy that opened in fifth over the 2003 Thanksgiving weekend, with the original finding only $12.3 million over three days and $16.8 million over five; Allied, with Brad Pitt appearing in the movie that broke up his marriage; and finally Rules Don’t Apply, the latest gaudy production from Warren Beatty. Add to that the second weekend of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and we have a Thanksgiving weekend to be reckoned with.
Our number one film of the weekend is Moana, and what a weekend it had. The animated Disney release got started way back on Tuesday night, when it earned a surprisingly large $2.6 million, doubling the likes of The Good Dinosaur, last Thanksgiving’s film that didn’t work. Adding the Tuesday into the Wednesday, the opening day box office figure was reported at a stellar $15.7 million, more than a half-million better than Disney’s Frozen on opening day. Beating Frozen made Moana the number one film ever for the day before Thanksgiving, and set up what could be an excellent Turkey weekend. On Thursday, Moana dipped below Frozen’s $11 million, pulling in $9.9 million on its second full day of release. Before the weekend had even begun, Moana and Disney had earned $25.6 million.
On Friday, Moana pulled in another $21.8 million, again not reaching Frozen’s first Friday amount of $26.8 million, as well as the $22.6 million earned by the second biggest three-day Thanksgiving opener, Toy Story 2. Outside of those comparisons, though, Moana had a fantastic first Friday, positioning itself excellently for the rest of the weekend. Instead of growth from Friday-to-Saturday, Thanksgiving weekend provides numbers more similar to having two consecutive Saturdays before having a big drop-off on Sunday. Toy Story 2 fell 5.6% moving from Friday to Saturday, and Frozen fell exactly the same amount. Moana’s Saturday was reported at $21.2 million, down 2.8% from Friday.
Moana’s Thanksgiving weekend estimate came in at an awesome $55.5 million over three days and a spectacular $81.1 million over five. Disney put the blockbuster out to 3,875 venues, about 100 more than what Frozen had. It finishes as the second biggest three-day Thanksgiving opener, behind Frozen’s $67.4 million (when it finished second behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and also finishes second behind Frozen’s five-day tally ($93.6 million). Once again, Disney found success the old fashioned way, putting together a very good movie and then marketing the hell out of it.
At the time of this writing, Moana is 98% fresh, with only three negative reviews out of a possible 120. That is better than Frozen’s result at RottenTomatoes, which turned in an 89% fresh rating. While reviews were better than Frozen, the Cinemascore wasn’t. The score for Moana came in as an A, while Frozen’s score was A+.