Will Disney's Moana Rule the Thanksgiving Box Office?



Despite dominating at the box office last weekend with $74.4 million, Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them may be in danger of relinquishing its box office crown already. Four new releases hit theaters over a crowded Thanksgiving holiday frame, with Disney’s Moana, starring Dwayne Johnson, Paramount’s Allied, starring Brad Pitt, Broad Green Pictures’ Bad Santa 2 starring Billy Bob Thornton and Rules Don’t Apply starring Alden Ehrenreich vying for the box office crown. While it may come down to the wire, we’re predicting that Moana unseats Fantastic Beasts over the holiday weekend.

Box Office Mojo reports that Moana is set to debut in over 3,800 theaters this weekend, which is still roughly 350 theaters less than Fantastic Beasts. Allied is expected to roll out in approximately 3,000 theaters, while Bad Santa 2 will debut in more than 2,500 theaters and Rules Don’t Apply is expected to arrive in 2,300 theaters this weekend. It remains to be seen whether or not Fantastic Beasts will drop any theaters in its second weekend, but it doesn’t seem likely. Still, even with this theater count advantage, we’re predicting that Moana will win the three-day weekend with $42.6 million, barely beating out Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with $41.2 million.

That prediction isn’t for the five-day holiday weekend total, though, with Moana likely taking in around $75 million to $80 million during that extended holiday frame. Out of the four new releases, Disney’s animated adventure is by far the most critically-acclaimed, with a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with zero negative reviews out of 50. Allied is currently at a 63% rating on RT, although the other two new releases haven’t fared so well. Rules Don’t Apply falls just barely under the “Fresh” threshold with a 59% rating, while Bad Santa 2 has a 35% rating so far.

In the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island. During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore. Dwayne Johnson leads the voice cast as Maui, with newcomer Auli’i Cravalho voicing the title character. The supporting voice cast is rounded out by Alan Tudyk as Heihei, Nicole Scherzinger as Sina and Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa.

Allied will come in third place with $14.2 million this weekend. Allied is the story of intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war. The supporting cast includes Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Simon McBurney, Matthew Goode, Anton Lesser and Raffey Cassidy.

Bad Santa 2 will debut in fourth place with $9.4 million. Bad Santa 2 returns Academy Award-winner Billy Bob Thornton to the screen as America’s favorite anti-hero, Willie Soke. Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox), to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is ‘the kid’ – chubby and cheery Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie’s sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Kathy Bates, as Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke. A super butch super bitch, Sunny raises the bar for the gang’s ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior. Willie is further burdened by lusting after the curvaceous and prim Diane, played by Emmy Award-nominee Christina Hendricks, the charity director with a heart of gold and libido of steel.

Rules Don’t Apply will round out the top 5 with $8.1 million. Rules Don’t Apply follows the unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her determined driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and the eccentric billionaire (Warren Beatty) who they work for. It’s Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her personal driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), only two weeks on the job and also from a religiously conservative background. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes’ #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have an intimate relationship with a contract actress. But Hughes’ absurd behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in very separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.

The top 10 will be rounded out by Doctor Strange ($8 million), Trolls ($7.7 million), Arrival ($6.8 million), Almost Christmas ($3.6 million) and Hacksaw Ridge ($3 million). On Friday, November 25, a number of films arrive in limited release, such as Oscilloscope Pictures’ Always Shine, IFC’s Evolution, Independent’s Kill Command, The Weinstein Company’s Lion, EuropaCorp’s Miss Sloane and Strand’s documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai. Two Focus Features’ films will expand this weekend as well, with Loving jumping from 137 theaters to 429 theaters, while Nocturnal Animals expands from 37 theaters to 200 theaters.

Looking ahead to next weekend, the High Top Releasing thriller Incarnate is the only movie to arrive in wide release, with a slew of films arriving in limited release. Fox Searchlight’s awards contender Jackie arrives alongside Archstone’s drama Anonymous, First Run’s documentary Best and Most Beautiful Things, Magnolia’s horror-thriller The Eyes of My Mother, GVN Releasing’s drama A Girl Like Grace, Distrib Films’ drama In Her Name and IFC’s drama Things to Come will have have limited debuts this weekend. Take a look at our box office predictions below, and check back on Sunday for the box office estimates.

1 Moana
2 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
3 Allied
4 Bad Santa 2
5 Rules Don’t Apply
6 Doctor Strange
7 Trolls
8 Arrival
9 Almost Christmas
10 Hacksaw Ridge



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