Box Office Recap: ‘Moana’ Tops Thanksgiving Weekend

Moana smooth sailed at the box office.


Disney’s Moana dominated the Thanksgiving box office, earning a strong $81.1 million over the five-days and $55.5 million for the weekend.

The South Pacific animated adventure includes a voice cast of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as the demigod Maui and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as the title heroine. Moana’s opening numbers marks as another successful Disney Thanksgiving box office weekend, with 2013’s Frozen holding the studio’s biggest holiday debut with $93.6 million.

“Their stuff is so good right now and connecting with audiences,” says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “The Disney animation brand is right up there with Pixar at this point.”

Moana received a 98 percent “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, and an A CinemaScore from moviegoers.

In second place, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them scored an additional $65.8 million for the holiday weekend, with a domestic total of $156.2 million. The prequel to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise stars Eddie Redmayne as wizard Newt Scamander.

“This is very impressive for a very competitive family weekend,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore.

The other weekend holdover went to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange with $18.9 million in third place for its fourth weekend out. It has an accumulated domestic total of $205.1 million.

Brad Pitt and Mario Cotillard’s World War II drama Allied debuted in fourth place with $18 million from 3,160 theaters over the five days, while holdover Arrival followed in fifth place with $15.6 million ($62.4 million total). Allied scored a 61 percent “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore.

“For an R-rated period piece, the fact that Allied was able to earn $18 million is actually impressive, considering the vast array of more populist and younger-skewing fare available,” said Dergarabedian. “[Allied] benefited from the heightened awareness for the film created, for better or worse, by the highly publicized split of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.”

Sequel Bad Santa 2 finished in seventh place, earning $9 million over the five-day stretch and $6.1 million for the weekend. Only 26 percent of critics enjoyed the follow-up to 2003’s Bad Santa, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences gave it a C-plus on CinemaScore.

“It’s been a long time between Bad Santas, and this was another sequel this year that people just didn’t respond to,” says Dergarabedian.

Failing to land in the top 10 is Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, which bombed with a five-day gross of $2.2 million from 2,382 theaters ($1.6 million for the weekend). The Hollywood drama tells the story of a young woman (Lily Collins) and man (Alden Ehrenreich) who work for Howard Hughes (Beatty).

Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick also star in the film, which earned a B-minus CinemaScore and a 57 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Top 10 Films at Weekend Box Office: November 25-27

  1. Moana$55.5 million
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them$45.1 million
  3. Doctor Strange$13.4 million
  4. Allied$13 million
  5. Arrival$11.3 million
  6. Trolls$10.3 million
  7. Bad Santa 2$6.1 million
  8. Almost Christmas$5.7 million
  9. Hacksaw Ridge$5.5 million
  10. The Edge of Seventeen$3 million

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