November 24, 2016

EARLY WEDNESDAY BOX OFFICE: “Moana” Dominates “Fantastic Beasts,” Drowns Everything Else


Based on preliminary numbers at Deadline, MOANA (Disney Animation) is going to have a dominant and perhaps even historic Thanksgiving weekend.  Disney’s latest blockbuster blew past predictions with a $15.4M opening day (including $2.6M from Tuesday night).  That’s better than the $15.2M earned by Frozen (which technically was in its 2d week of release, having opened in a single theatre the week before), and appears to be the #2 day-before-Thanksgiving ever, behind only the $20.8M 6th day of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  If Moana continues to outpace Frozen–rave exit poll results suggest strong word of mouth is likely–and goes over $93.6M by Sunday, it will hold the Thanksgiving weekend wide opening title.  With no family competition until Sing opens on December 21, and then the holiday bonanza after that, Moana will be a money-printing machine, and should also have wide international appeal–and in case Disney isn’t having a good enough 2016 already, Rogue One is just around the corner.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners) appeared to be dented by Moana‘s arrival with a $11.2M Wednesday that was up just 20% from Tuesday despite the beginning of the long holiday weekend.  Other November Harry Potter openings have done much better on the day before Thanksgiving, with Sorcerer’s Stone up 65%, Chamber of Secrets up 84%, Goblet of Fire up 57%, and Deathly Hallows Part 1 up 41%.  It appears to be headed for a $55-60M 5-day holiday, and a $225-250M US total, at best tying the lowest-grossing Potter (Prisoner of Askaban‘s $249.5M).  This weekend will also feature the film’s critical China/Japan openings, so by Sunday we’ll have a good sense of where Beasts is likely to end up worldwide.

Nothing else was remotely close to those titles.  ALLIED (GK/Huahua/Paramount) had an OK $2.9M Wednesday and might reach $18M by Sunday, not much of a start for a project with $150M+ in production/marketing costs.  The studio will hope that the international appeal of Brad Pitt and Marion Cottillard can lead it into profit.

BAD SANTA 2 (Broad Green), arriving 13 years after the first Bad Santa, waited too long, with a $1.6M Wednesday and perhaps $9M by Sunday.  This was a low-cost project, but will struggle to find breakeven.

Warren Beatty is a pivotal figure in Hollywood history, but he’s 79 years old and his last starring vehicle was 15 years ago (the giant flop Town & Country).  On top of that, RULES DON’T APPLY (Regency/20th) was aimed at exactly the same nostalgic older audience as Allied.  The result was a cataclysmic $310K on Wednesday, setting it up for a 5-day total that might not get past $2M.  20th and its minions are already spreading the spin that the film didn’t cost that much (it wasn’t hugely expensive, but probably has $100M+ in worldwide costs) and that the studio bore only a piece of the expense.  Let’s put it this way:  someone is going to lose a fortune on this disaster.

Longer-running holdovers were led by DOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney), which earned $2.8M on Wednesday and should be over $200M in the US by Sunday, on its way to $225M or so.  TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) had a similar Wednesday to Doctor Strange and should be on track for a $160M US total by Sunday.  ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Paramount) took in $2.1M on Wednesday and is heading toward a very respectable $80-85M in the US.




About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."