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‘Moana’ to Surf Past $80 Million at Thanksgiving Box Office

Estimates on Disney animation rise, on par with ”Frozen“ five-day opening

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Disney are already proving to be a winning combination as the animated “Moana” is sizing up to be a Thanksgiving holiday hit that may even have a chance at surpassing 2013’s “Frozen.”

The film is now looking to surpass $80 million on its five-day holiday weekend debut, upped from initial estimates of roughly $75 million.

“Moana” made $15.7 million on Wednesday alone. That is more than the $15.2 million opening day for Disney’s “Frozen,” which holds the records for both the biggest three-day and five-day Thanksgiving box office openings. And “Frozen” made $93.6 million on its five-day debut.

Other new wide releases in theaters on Thanksgiving are 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 will compete with Warner Bros. holdover hit “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” for the No. 2 spot — the “Harry Potter” prequel is aiming for $60 million over the five-day holiday.

“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.

“Moana” moviegoers will also be 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 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes — which is likely helping 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.

Meanwhile, director Robert Zemeckis’ R-rated “Allied” should end its five-day opening with roughly $15 million. 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” may 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.

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 now looks like it will come in lower than previous five-day opening estimates of $9 million. It was made for $25 million (not counting marketing costs) and has a 58 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a B- CinemaScore.