'Moana' Sets Sights on $80+ Million 5-Day Thanksgiving Debut
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Moana remained atop the daily box office on Friday, pulling in an estimated $21.8 million as the film's estimated five-day performance is now expected to settle in around $81 million. An opening above $80.1 million would give it the second largest five-day Thanksgiving opening of all-time, edging out Toy Story 2 and giving Disney nine of the top ten five-day Thanksgiving opening weekends.

Paramount's Allied remains on pace for an opening around $17-18 million after an estimated $4.9 million on Friday brought its three-day cume to $9.96 million since opening on Wednesday. Bad Santa 2 brought in an estimated $2.29 million as it heads toward a five-day opening around $9 million or so and things aren't much better for Rules Don't Apply, which brought in an estimated $600,000 on Friday and is looking at a five-day opening around $2.1 million.

You can check out our complete look at the Friday estimates right here and previous updates since posting our forecast on Tuesday directly below. We'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the five-day, holiday weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Disney's Moana remained #1 at the box office on Thanksgiving day, taking in an estimated $9.9 million, bringing its two-day total to $25.58 million. After its strong opening day, which topped Frozen's opening before it went on to a record-breaking five-day performance, this is a bit of a step back, coming in $1.1 million behind Frozen's second day in wide release. At this point a record-breaking five-day seems unlikely, but an $85+ million opening is still a possibility.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a close second on Thursday, bringing in an estimated $9.6 million and is now looking like it could pull in a $70 million five-day weekend, which itself would be a top ten Thanksgiving performance, though with Moana's performance it would probably place it #11 was the weekend comes to a close.

Elsewhere, Paramount's Allied remains on track for an $18 million five-day or thereabouts after an estimated $2.3 million on Thursday. Bad Santa 2 will have to continue to scratch and claw to bring in more than $10 million for the five-day weekend.

Finally, Rules Don't Apply is looking rather disastrous, bringing in an estimated $285,000 on Thursday for a $600,000 two-day total from 2,382 theaters. At this point Rules Don't Apply is looking at a three-day weekend around $2 million or so, which would make it one of the worst wide openings of all-time for a film playing in 2,000+ theaters.

You can check out all of the Thanksgiving day estimates right here and we'll continue to update this post throughout the weekend, followed by a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

THURSDAY AM UPDATE: Moana exceeded last night's estimated Wednesday opening day, delivering a record-breaking pre-Thanksgiving opening day with an estimated $15.6 million, topping the previous record of $15.1 million set by Frozen before it went on to it's current five-day Thanksgiving weekend record opening of $93.5 million. At this point, industry sources are anticipating a possible new record for Moana, which could total as much as $94 million over the film's first five days of release.

Elsewhere, Paramount's Allied isn't living up to Mojo's forecast, but is on target for the studio's anticipated high-teens for the five-day after an opening day estimated at $2.72 million, heading toward what looks like a $19 million five-day. Bad Santa 2 is heading toward the low end of our weekend forecast after an estimated $1.59 million on Wednesday, looking like a $10 million five-day.

Finally, Fox's Rules Don't Apply is performing even worse than expected, bringing in an estimated $315,000 on Wednesday from 2,382 theaters. That's only $132 per theater and it's looking like a sub $3 million opening for the feature.

We'll have more tomorrow morning, but for now you can check the full list of Wednesday estimates here.

WEDNESDAY PM UPDATE: As if the strong Tuesday preview performance wasn't enough to prove Disney's Moana was on its way to a strong five-day opening, early reports regarding its full Wednesday performance point to an opening day around $15 million (including the $2.6 million in Tuesday night previews), just a notch below the $15.2 million Frozen brought in on its wide opening day before a record-setting $93.5 million five-day Thanksgiving weekend opening. Additionally, to go along with Moana's current 97% rating on RottenTomatoes, the film scored an "A" CinemaScore from opening day audiences. At this point, an $80+ million five-day seems inevitable, but can it crack $90 million?

Additionally, industry sources report Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is heading toward a five-day performance around $60 million, which is slightly ahead of Mojo's forecast. However, Paramount's Allied may fall a bit below our forecast with a performance and a five-day in the mid-to-high teens, putting it closer to the studio's pre-release expectations while Bad Santa 2 could be looking at a five-day debut closer to the lower-end of Mojo's forecast at or below $10 million. Allied received a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences while Bad Santa 2 received a "C+" and Fox's Rules Don't Apply, which is looking at a five-day debut around $4+ million, received a "B-".

We'll update further tomorrow morning once official estimates are in. You can read our previous update and full weekend preview below.

WEDNESDAY AM UPDATE: Moana kicked off the extended five-day holiday weekend last night with strong preview screenings, bringing in $2.6 million from screenings that began at 7PM across North America. This bests the $1.3 million The Good Dinosaur brought in last year on Tuesday evening as well as Frozen's $1.2 million Tuesday preview in 2013. The best Tuesday preview for an animated title, however, belongs to Despicable Me 2, which brought in $4.7 million from Tuesday night previews before going on to bring in $143 million over its opening five days in July 2013.

Paramount's Allied brought in $600,000 from Tuesday night showtimes that began at 7PM. There aren't any Tuesday night comparisons to be made with this one, but it is on par with the $600,000 Captain Phillips brought in on a Thursday night and the $500,000 Bridge of Spies, one of our comp titles in the preview below, hauled in on Thursday night.

Broad Green and Miramax's release of Bad Santa 2 grossed an estimated $350,000 from Tuesday night previews from 1,969 theaters.

Finally, Fox's Rules Don't Apply grossed an estimated $65,000 from 1,100 locations last evening.

You can check out our five-day weekend preview below.

5-DAY WEEKEND PREVIEW: The last three years have seen Thanksgiving weekend topped by a film in the Hunger Games franchise. Before that it was the Twilight franchise that led the way. In fact, not since 2008 has a major franchise film not led the three-day Thanksgiving weekend with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 filling a gap left by Twilight in 2010. That said, over the course of those seven years three of the top five three-day and five-day Thanksgiving openings have occurred, none of which finished #1 and all of them were animated features from Disney. The three films are last year's The Good Dinosaur, Tangled and, of course, the monster hit Frozen, which generated over $400 million domestically and yet didn't top the weekend box office until its second weekend in wide release. This weekend Disney looks to add another film to the Thanksgiving all-time charts in the form of Moana, a CGI-animated feature set amongst the islands of Oceania, arriving in over 3,800 theaters and this one will finish at #1.

Additional new releases include the Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard World War II thriller Allied, Broad Green's release of Bad Santa 2 and Fox's Rules Don't Apply, the first film directed by Warren Beatty since 1998's Bulworth. All will be competing for a spot in the top ten against the second weekend of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the continued top ten performances from Doctor Strange and Trolls. It's an extended weekend where 99% of children are out of school on Thursday and Friday and it should be a strong weekend at the box office.

Set for an easy #1 finish, Disney's Moana has all the right ingredients including a voice cast led by Dwayne Johnson, the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker) and the team behind the film's music is led by Tony®- and Grammy®-winning lyricist/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton"). Question is to wonder just what kind of box office success these ingredients are able to cook up.

Online ticket-retailer Fandango.com reports the film is outpacing Zootopia at the same point in the company's sales cycle. This does come with the caveat that Zootopia wasn't a Wednesday opener, but to take the comparison a bit further, IMDb page view data shows Moana pacing just a bit behind Zootopia when adjusting for the Wednesday opening. At the same time, a recent spike over the last couple days has bumped it up into competition with Frozen which, remember, played in one theater for one week ahead of release where it joined fellow Disney animated features with one of the top opening weekend theater averages of all-time. Moana isn't getting a similar week's worth of early buzz, but it will have Tuesday night preview screenings before it begins playing in 3,875 theaters on Wednesday with ~80% of those locations offering the film in 3D as well as 50 PLF screens and more than 40 DBOX screens.

As far as how it will perform, Disney is estimating a $70 million five-day haul. Given what we're looking at, the film's 100% RottenTomatoes rating and score of 82 on Metacritic, Mojo is forecasting a bit higher, anticipating a three-day around $62 million and a five-day around $85 million with a chance at a possible $90+ million five-day, which would put it in the same league as Frozen's $93.5 million five-day performance back in 2013.

Looking at a second place finish is last weekend's new opener Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which wasn't able to live up to Mojo's lofty forecast, but did deliver upon industry expectations coming in just shy of a $75 million opening. For comparison we can look at previous Thanksgiving second weekends such as how Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone dropped 36% after a $90 million opening back in 2001 and how The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 dropped 49.3% just last year after a $102.6 million opening. While this only presents us with a limited set of data for comparison it does provide a decent range for expectation. A good assumption would be to lean a little more toward the more recent case study and expect a drop around 45% and a $41 million three-day and upwards of $58 million for the five-day holiday.

Targeting a third place finish is Paramount's Allied from director Robert Zemeckis and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. The film was made on an $85 million budget and is debuting in 3,160 theaters on Wednesday with the studio anticipating a five-day opening in the high-teens, which feels incredibly safe, similar to the studio's expected $15 million opening for Arrival a few weeks ago before it debuted to $24 million.

Looking at IMDb data in advance of release Allied is tracking incredibly close to Bridge of Spies, which opened with $15 million over a three-day weekend in October, and pacing ahead of Argo, another October opener that debuted with $19.4 million over three-days. Reviews for the film have been mixed to the point it currently holds a 62% rating on RottenTomatoes, which won't exactly get audiences in theaters, but it isn't so bad it will turn many away. Overall, a five-day weekend around $25 million seems like safe territory, but it wouldn't be too surprising if it was able to threaten $30 million.

Fourth and fifth position could see another battle between Trolls and Doctor Strange, though the fact this is more of a family holiday Trolls could have a slight edge if it doesn't lose too much audience to Moana.

Broad Green Pictures and Miramax's Bad Santa 2 is looking at a finish just outside the top five as it is set to debut in 2,500-2,800 locations, which makes forecasting a bit more difficult. Industry expectations for the $26 million feature is a five-day opening in the mid-teens, which is about right on par with the average for a film of this sort. We could be looking at anything in the range of $12-17 million for the five-day. Attempting to draw comparisons using IMDb data shows the film pacing behind films such as Horrible Bosses 2 ($15.4m opening), Zoolander 2 ($13.8m opening) and even Hot Tub Time Machine 2 ($5.9m opening). Comedy sequels are tricky in that most don't generate the kind of fanbase that demands more and in this case Bad Santa 2 is showing the initial signs of being another one of those films to the point a $13 million five-day opening appears to be a best case scenario.

The last of the weekend's new wide releases is Fox's Rules Don't Apply, debuting in ~2,300 theaters. With very little fanfare leading up to release, there isn't much reason to expect this one to perform much higher than $5 million or so for the five-day weekend.

This weekend will also feature the continued expansion of Loving into 421 theaters (+284) and Focus's Nocturnal Animals expands into 126 theaters (+89). Reliance will also begin screening Dear Zindagi in 146 theaters on Wednesday, expanding to over 150 theaters on Friday and throughout the weekend.

In limited release starting on Friday, November 25, The Weinstein Co. will debut Lion in four theaters, IFC will release Evolution into three theaters and EuropaCorp will release Miss Sloane into three theaters.

In terms of the weekend overall, Mojo is anticipating the top twelve will gross nearly $185 million for the three-day, an ~5% improvement over the same weekend last year.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated with additional information as it comes available, including official theater counts, Tuesday night preview results and updates leading to Friday estimates on Saturday morning followed by a complete weekend recap Sunday morning.

  • Moana - $62.0 M
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them - $41.0 M
  • Allied - $18 M
  • Trolls - $13.8 M
  • Doctor Strange - $13.1 M
  • Bad Santa 2 - $9.2 M
  • Arrival - $7.9 M
  • Hacksaw Ridge - $4.9 M
  • Almost Christmas - $4.8 M
  • The Edge of Seventeen - $3.4 M

  • Moana - $85 M
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them - $58 M
  • Allied - $25 M
  • Trolls - $19.1 M
  • Doctor Strange - $18.2 M
  • Bad Santa 2 - $13 M
  • Arrival - $10.8 M
  • Hacksaw Ridge - $6.7 M
  • Almost Christmas - $6.4 M
  • Rules Don't Apply - $4.8 M

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