‘Frozen II’ Skates to $8.5 Million at Thursday Box Office

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “21 Bridges” also open wide

Frozen 2
"Frozen II" / Disney

“Frozen II,” Disney’s follow-up to the pop culture phenomenon “Frozen” from 2013, brought in $8.5 million at the box office in Thursday night previews beginning at 6 p.m. It opens on over 4,300 screens this weekend.

The fall box office is finally set to heat up with the arrival of “Frozen II,” which the studio is projecting for an opening in the $100 million range, with trackers saying it should land between $105-115 million, though it could rise to $130 million if the excitement is as high as some trackers suspect. It opens opposite “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which stars Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, and the thriller “21 Bridges” starring Chadwick Boseman, both of which go wide in the last weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Frozen II” already soared past all-time records for animated films in pre-sales on the ticketing site Fandango. So the comp to watch is “Incredibles 2,” which hit a Thursday preview record for an animated film when it made $18.5 million in its Thursday previews last summer ahead of a $183 million opening weekend total. But it landed closer to “Finding Dory,” which was the previous animation record-holder and did $9 million in previews before opening to $135 million.

You could also look at Disney Animation’s “Zootopia,” which did just $1.7 million in previews and opened to $75 million, or for a more recent comp, “Toy Story 4” made $12 million and opened to $120.9 million domestically. The comparisons to both “Moana” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the other two recent Disney Animation titles, is more difficult seeing as Disney moved up the release of “Frozen II” to a week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Internationally, “Frozen II” also opened to $18.6 million across 26 markets and was the number one title in all of them. It also posted the highest animated opening day of all-time in Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Philippines, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. So far the key markets it has opened in include Korea, France and Germany.

Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are back for another animated adventure in the Kingdom of Arendelle, as the group travels to a hidden, magical forest that may contain secrets about their past and hold the key to saving Arendelle’s future.

“Frozen II” is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and Kirsten Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad all returned to the voice cast. The film’s newcomers are Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K. Brown, Jason Segel, Martha Plimpton, Ciarán Hinds, Rachel Matthews and Alfred Molina. Critics have been somewhat more muted on the new “Frozen,” as the film has a 77 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the original’s 90 percent. However, it still has a 94% verified audience score from Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.5 out of 5-star rating from ComScore’s PostTrak ratings system among general audiences and kids.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which is based on a true story surrounding the life of Fred Rogers, made $900,000 at the Thursday box office from 2,865 screens at previews beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Sony Pictures is releasing the Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys and is projecting an opening of $14 million, with independent trackers saying it could go to between $17-20 million. The film is a mid-budget movie and an awards hopeful for Hanks especially.

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” director Marielle Heller helms the story of a jaded journalist at Esquire magazine in the 1990s who is assigned to write a profile on Mister Rogers and finds his life transformed by Rogers’ sincerity and charm. It currently has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes and should perform well into the Thanksgiving holiday.

Finally, STXfilms’ “21 Bridges” starring Chadwick Boseman made $700,000 in its Thursday night previews. It opens on 2,665 screens this weekend. Comparisons include “Widows,” which took in $572,500 before opening to $12.3 million, or Focus Features’ “Harriet” from earlier this month, which had $600,000 in previews and opened to $11.6 million.

It is a mid-budget movie of approximately $33 million that’s poised to open between $12-14 million. STX is hoping to cash in on the pedigree of “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who produced the thriller that features “Black Panther” star Boseman.

Boseman plays a detective in New York who puts the entire city on lockdown in order to track two suspected cop killers (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch). Sienna Miller, Keith David, and J. K. Simmons also star in the film, which is directed by Brian Kirk from a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Adam Mervis. The film is a production of STXfilms, MWM Studios and Huayi Brothers Pictures.