‘Moana’ Sails in With $81 Million at Thanksgiving Box Office

It’s the second-biggest five-day opening for the holiday, behind Disney’s “Frozen”

moana disney box office

Disney has another hit on their hands with the animated “Moana” featuring the voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Thanksgiving holiday moneymaker earned an estimated $81.1 million over the five-day holiday, shy of the record set by Disney’s “Frozen” when it earned $93.6 million in the same time frame in 2013. If that estimate holds, “Moana” will barely beat 1999’s “Toy Story 2” for the No. 2 spot.

Earlier in its opening frame, “Moana” appeared to have a chance at defrosting the “Frozen” record when it earned $15.7 million on Wednesday alone (more than the $15.2 million opening day for Disney’s 2013 animated title).

The studio’s 56th animated feature easily surpassed initial estimates that were, on average, $75 million.

On Thanksgiving Day, “Moana” earned $9.9 million, still putting it in striking distance of “Frozen,” which earned $11.1 million on the national holiday.

Other new wide releases opening in theaters were Paramount’s World War II romantic drama “Allied,” starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, Fox drama “Rules Don’t Apply,” written and directed by Warren Beatty, who also stars as Howard Hughes, and Billy Bob Thornton in the comedy sequel “Bad Santa 2,” out of Broad Green Pictures and Miramax.

Other than “Moana,” none of the above titles could compete with Warner Bros. holdover hit “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” for the No. 2 spot — the “Harry Potter” prequel earned $65.8 million, beating prior predictions of $60 million over the five-day holiday.

Disney-Marvel holdover “Doctor Strange” earned $18.9 million for third place.

“Moana” features the voice of newcomer Auli’i 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.

“Moana” moviegoers were also treated to the animated short “Inner Workings” from Leo Matsuda, who was a story artist on “Big Hero 6” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”

“Moana” is now playing in 3,875 theaters. It was produced for more than $150 million and has a near-perfect 98 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, which likely helped it sail to the high end of box office estimates. Another great sign for the new title: It has an A CinemaScore, graded by those surveyed on opening night.

The new Disney title also made $16.3 million overseas in three days from 12 markets, bringing its global total to $97.4 million.

Meanwhile, director Robert Zemeckis’ R-rated “Allied” should end its five-day opening with roughly $17 million for fourth place. It made $2.7 million on Wednesday and was produced for $85 million. It’s screening in 3,160 theaters domestically and 25 markets abroad. It has a 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore.

“Bad Santa 2” will not bag previous predictions of $20 million — forgiving figures for the comedy sequel that has a 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a C+ CinemaScore. It’s now looking at a $9 million five-day debut.

Finally, “Rules Don’t Apply,” also starring Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich in addition to Beatty, is now playing in 2,382 theaters. It earned $315,000 on Wednesday and is coming in much lower than previous five-day opening estimates of $9 million — at just over $2 million. It was made for $25 million (not counting marketing costs) and has a 58 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a B- CinemaScore.

The Top Five (Five-Day):
1. “Moana” (Disney) — $81.1 million in Week 1 ($81.1 million total)
2. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (Warner Bros.) — $65.8 million in Week 2 ($156.2 million total)
3. “Doctor Strange” (Disney) — $18.9 million in Week 4 ($205.1 million total)
4. “Allied” (Paramount) — $18 million in Week 1 ($18 million total)
5. “Arrival” (Paramount) — $15.6 million in Week 3 ($62.4 million total)