Animated movies from Disney like Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” which opens nationwide on Wednesday, are up there with turkey, pilgrims and green bean casseroles as Thanksgiving perennials.
“The Good Dinosaur,” in 3D and computer-animated, is about to join the long list of Disney films that launched at No. 1 over the holiday, analysts told TheWrap, projecting a $60 million five-day haul. That will likely power it past reigning champ “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” which is on track for $50 million over the five days.
There are two other wide releases: MGM/New Line’s “Rocky” spinoff “Creed” is tracking between $27 million to $35 million, while Fox’s $40 million horror revival “Victor Frankenstein” with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe should finish in the $12 million range on 2,700 screens.
“The Good Dinosaur” opens in previews Tuesday night in more than 3,700 theaters, roughly 75 percent of which will offer 3D shows. If it does debut on top, it will join Disney’s Thanksgiving box-office honor roll that includes “Toy Story 2,” “Tangled,” “A Bug’s Life,” the live-action “101 Dalmations” and 2013’s “Frozen,” the holiday record-holder with a five-day debut gross of $93.5 million.
“It’s 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,” Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution, told TheWrap.
And Disney films will be happening at Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future.
“We have an animated film from either Disney or Pixar slated for Thanksgiving weekend every year through 2020, although we haven’t announced the titles for all of them,” Hollis said. Disney’s “Moana” and Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” are set for 2016 and 2017, respectively, and three Disney Animation titles will follow in the Thanksgiving slot.
“The Good Dinosaur” took the long way to get to Wednesday’s coming-out party.
Production began in 2009 with Bob Peterson and Peter Sohn as co-directors and a targeted Thanksgiving 2013 release. That date was pushed ahead one year in 2012, and the following year, story problems prompted Pixar President Ed Catmull to make Sohn the director and bring in Denise Ream as producer.
In the summer of 2014, Disney pushed the movie to its current date, giving Pixar two releases in one year for the first time. Five months ago, a new voice cast was announced with Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A. J. Buckley, Steve Zahn, Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright.
Vital signs are solid for “The Good Dinosaur,” but they don’t match the advance ticket sales, social media buzz and reviews of this past summer’s Pixar release, “Inside Out.”
Writer-director Pete Docter‘s film, which is seen as a potential nominee for a Best Picture Oscar, became the first of 15 Pixar releases not to debut in the top spot despite a $91 million opening, the best-ever for an original film. It was beaten by “Jurassic World” that weekend, but ended the lizards’ run at No. 1 two weeks later.
“The Good Dinosaur” has one thing going for it that “Inside Out” did not: Thanksgiving.