Thanksgiving Box Office Preview: ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ ‘Creed’ Sequels Expected to Top Originals

“Robin Hood” and “Green Book” also hit theaters during holiday weekend

The first round of opening weekend projections for Thanksgiving are highlighted by Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and Warner Bros./MGM’s “Creed II,” two sequels that are expected to improve on the openings of their predecessors.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is currently projected to open to $65 million, which would be a roughly 33 percent improvement over the $49 million opening “Wreck-It Ralph” scored in early November 2012. It would also beat the $50 million opening for Disney’s Thanksgiving offering last year, the Pixar Oscar winner “Coco,” and the $56 million opening for its 2016 Thanksgiving film, “Moana.” It comes at the right time, too, as another Disney release, the $130 million “Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” is expected to bomb this weekend with a $20 million opening.

“Wreck-It Ralph” was a relatively solid success for Disney, earning $189.4 million domestically and $471.2 million worldwide. But “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is expected to do even better, thanks to both the name recognition the first film built and a trailer that became a viral sensation with more than 16 million views on Disney’s YouTube channel.

While the first film heavily advertised the video game cameos with posters that included the likes of Sonic and M. Bison alongside the movie’s protagonist, the sequel is using meta-humor as the main draw, poking fun at the wide array of intellectual property that has been developed — and bought — by Disney since the first film came out.

The centerpiece of the marketing is a much talked about scene in which Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) comes face-to-face with all of the Disney princesses. It pokes fun at the princess formula Disney has become known for over the decades. The success of films like “Deadpool” has shown that moviegoers can’t get enough of pop culture ribbing itself, and it should lead to strong word-of-mouth for this manic take on the blockbuster empire Disney has built this decade.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” sees Vanellope and Ralph (John C. Reilly) leave their little arcade and head out to the Internet to find a component that could fix Vanellope’s game and keep her from losing her home. But when Vanellope lands in a gritty driving game and earns the respect of a driver named Shank (Gal Gadot), Vanellope must decide whether she wants to stay in the Internet. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch also star, with Taraji P. Henson joining the cast.

“Creed II,” meanwhile, is looking at an opening in the high $40 million range, a big improvement over the first film’s $29.6 million opening. The film should perform particularly well with African-American audiences, as lead star Michael B. Jordan’s profile has been elevated immensely after his show-stealing performance in “Black Panther.” Ryan Coogler, who directed both “Panther” and “Creed,” returns here as an executive producer, with Steven Caple Jr. directing from a script co-written by Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone.

“Creed II” sees Adonis Creed’s boxing career take a deeply personal turn after he is challenged to a match by Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed Adonis’ father during a match in “Rocky IV” and who was later defeated by Rocky. Blinded by rage, Adonis accepts the challenge with a reluctant Rocky in his corner.

Jordan, Stallone, Tessa Thompson, and Phylicia Rashad return from the original film, with Dolph Lundgren reprising his role as Ivan Drago and Florian Munteanu joining as Viktor. Milo Ventimiglia also joins the cast as Rocky’s estranged son, Robert Balboa, Jr.

Also in play on Thanksgiving are Lionsgate’s “Robin Hood” and Universal’s awards contender “Green Book,” which, respectively, are projected to open in the high teens and the high single-digit range. “Robin Hood,” which stars Taron Egerton in a retelling of the famous Sherwood Forest rogue, might find itself squeezed out by “Creed II” among moviegoers looking for a film with thrills during the holiday.

“Green Book,” meanwhile, will open on Wednesday and look to build word-of-mouth over the five-day weekend. The film won the audience prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was praised by critics as a crowd-pleasing story of jazz maestro Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his unlikely friendship with the gregarious Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as the latter chauffeurs him through his tour of Jim Crow South. Peter Farrelly directs the film, which has a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes from early reviews.