Disney’s “Moana” might be able to break the Thanksgiving box office record held by 2013’s “Frozen” after having a successful three-day opening.
And that’s due to several factors — most notably, the film’s star is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, People’s Sexiest Man Alive and one of the most marketable actors in Hollywood today.
Also, Disney has had a hot streak at the Thanksgiving box office. The studio has ruled the holiday weekend with hits like “Tangled” in 2010, “Frozen” in 2013 and “The Good Dinosaur” last year.
Estimates for “Moana” say it could easily top at least $85 million, and counting. That’s a bump from original estimates of $75 million — so it keeps getting closer to “Frozen’s” $93.6 million five-day debut.
Moana” features the voice of newcomer Auliʻi Cravalho as an adventurous teen who leaves her Pacific island, joined by demigod Maui (Johnson) on a quest to save her people. The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin”) and features music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i.
See below for 5 reasons why “Moana” is having a successful opening weekend:
1. Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the hottest actors in Hollywood right now, and not just because he is People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. He is extremely popular among his fans and has a strong social media presence.
“Johnson is such a draw that his self proclaimed status as ‘Franchise Viagra’ is not a boast, it’s true,” senior analyst at comScore Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. “This guy could read the phone book and people would line up at the multiplex to see him. No joke.”
2. The Disney Animation Studio Hot Streak
As mentioned above, Disney has ruled the Thanksgiving box office for quite some time. In 2010, “Tangled” opened to $68.7 million, and “Frozen” broke the five-day Thanksgiving box office record when it debuted to $93.6 million in 2013.
“Coming from the animation house that brought you ‘Tangled,’ ‘Big Hero 6,’ ‘Zootopia’ and of course ‘Frozen’ among others, ‘Moana’ is keeping the hot streak going and adds another in a line of critically acclaimed box office hits for the studio,” said Dergarabedian. “They are no longer second fiddle to corporate brethren Pixar but rather a complimentary equal.”
Last year, Disney’s head of distribution Dave Hollis told TheWrap that the holiday weekend is “a strong corridor for our films and our brands because they play to all audiences, so they’re the perfect choice whenever multi-generational gatherings like Thanksgiving are happening.” He added that Disney Animation and Pixar have animated films slated for every Thanksgiving weekend through 2020.
3. The Film Is Set in Hawaii
The film is set in Hawaii and follows Moana as she sets across the ocean. The film’s setting draws in those longing for an island vacation.
“Who doesn’t love Hawaii? Other than Disneyland, it’s the happiest place on earth,” said Dergarabedian. “Seriously, bringing the cultural traditions and majesty of the Hawaiian people and the islands themselves is perfectly realized in ‘Moana.’ A perfect subject met the perfect creative team and the results are magic. “
4. The Film’s Marketing
Marketing for “Moana” has been stellar. From Johnson tweeting and posting behind-the-scenes videos and photos on Instagram, and with Lin-Manuel Miranda writing songs for the film, Disney had a stellar marketing campaign for the studio’s 56th animated feature film.
Johnson’s catchy song, “You’re Welcome,” will stay stuck in your head for days and Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” might be the next “Let It Go.”
Reviews have been great as well — the film has a CinemaScore of A and a Rotten Tomatoes fresh rating of 97 percent.
5. Moana Is the Female Hero Disney Needed
Moana is a strong, powerful female hero that Disney needed. She goes against her father’s will and sets across the seas to find a demigod to save her people. She’s not your ordinary princess.
“Disney does have a legacy of female heroines,” Bill Schwab, the film’s art director for characters, told The Washington Post. “but I feel like Moana is unique.”