Moana Survives Tough Post-Thanksgiving Weekend
By John Hamann
December 4, 2016
Ah, the post-Thanksgiving box office weekend. This is one of those armpit frames that studios avoid like the plague.
Yes, this is the weekend where we go from the glory of five days of Thanksgiving box office to a drought. It's like hiking out of the beautiful plush mountains and into a wasteland, as we transition from having four big openers to one very small one. Christmas shopping becomes the theme of the weekend, but like recent years, parents seem to drop the kids off at theaters and then do their shopping. The only survivors in the box office wasteland this weekend are movies for kids, with Moana looking to keep some momentum going after an $82 million five-day start last weekend. Our only opener does not strike fear into the holdover competition, as that release is the horror film Incarnate (you thought it was a comedy?), from little known High Top Releasing. The weekend is again all about Moana, as Disney has its 17th number one weekend of 2016.
Our number one film of the weekend is no surprise; it's Moana, Disney's latest super-hit. After earning $82 million over five days last weekend and $56.6 million over three days, it was going to be very interesting to see what happened with its second weekend. Frozen, Toy Story 2 and Tangled (all animated Thanksgiving openers) fell more than 50% in their Thanksgiving follow-ups, and last year's entry, The Good Dinosaur, fell 61% in weekend two. After finishing a close third behind Toy Story 2 as one of the biggest Thanksgiving openers of all time, Moana was looking to match the Pixar sequel's drop, which came in at 51.6%, and its second-weekend gross, which tallied $27.8 million. Given its good reviews and solid Cinemascore, Moana should have no problem playing with the big boys.
On Moana's second Friday, things at first glance look dire. Moana picked up $6.45 million, down a massive 70% from the Thanksgiving frame. Normally this would be an extremely grim Friday-to-Friday to drop, but this is no normal weekend. Frozen, with its ridiculous legs, fell 75% from its first to second Friday, and Toy Story 2 fell 71%. So on the face of it, Moana's drop looks painful, but in reality, it's a better hold than two of the biggest Thanksgiving releases ever. It is ironic that the second Friday can appear so bad, and actually be quite good.
I often compare a long weekend two having two Saturdays, but Thanksgiving is even bigger than that. Black Friday is like a Saturday on steroids, or one of those rare box office days like Christmas Day. That super-Friday puts all holdovers at risk for a large drop, whether you're a big movie like Moana or a smaller one like Arrival. Disney likely expected a 55% drop or worse, but instead got a decent result. Moana earned $28.4 million from 3,875 venues, earning a solid drop of 50% compared to Thanksgiving weekend. This is an impressive hold for Moana, as it is in range of the $31.6 million earned by Frozen, and ahead of the $27.8 million earned by Toy Story 2. Considering those two films went on to earn $400 million and $246 million respectively, Moana finds itself in very good company. Moana has earned $119.9 million on the domestic side so far and $58 million overseas, though it's just getting started in those international venues.