Disney animated film misses Thanksgiving record but tops US box office

Disney’s South Pacific animated tale Moana fell short of a Frozen-sized debut but nevertheless dominated the Thanksgiving box office with an estimated $81.1m over the five-day weekend. The well-reviewed film, about a princess’s mythical journey in ancient Polynesia, earned $55.5m from Friday to Sunday in North America, according to studio estimates. Though it didn’t match the 2013 Thanksgiving release of Frozen ($93.6m over five days in 2013), Moana scored the second-highest Turkey Day debut ever.

Falling to second was JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which earned $65.8m over the five-day weekend and $45.1m over the three-day weekend. The Harry Potter spinoff, from Warner Bros, has brought in $156.2m in two weeks. Overseas, Fantastic Beasts debuted in China, where its $41.1m fueled a weekend haul of $132m internationally.

Those two blockbusters far outpaced more star-driven films. The Brad Pitt-Marion Cotillard second world war romance Allied opened with a mediocre $18m over five days. The Paramount Pictures release, directed by Robert Zemeckis, cost a hefty $85m to make.

Warren Beatty’s first film in 15 years, the 1950s Hollywood comedy Rules Don’t Apply, bombed with $2.2m over the five-day weekend.

Bad Santa 2, from Broad Green and Miramax, didn’t flop as badly but it pulled in a scant $9m over five days. The sequel, again starring Billy Bob Thornton, comes 13 years after the original.

In limited release, a number of potential awards contenders packed theaters. Debuting on a handful of screens were Lion ($32,092 per-screen average), with Dev Patel, and Miss Sloane ($21,000 per-screen average), with Jessica Chastain. Expanding from four to 48 screens was Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck. It took in $1.3m with a per-screen average of $26,048.

The holiday weekend was the sixth biggest Thanksgiving at the box office, according to comScore, falling slightly behind most recent years. But the fairly strong business, led by well-reviewed tent-pole releases, continued what’s been a healthy fall season, up 4.5% from last year.

Check out the Nov. 25-27 weekend box office estimates below:

1. Moana – $55.5 million ($81.1 million five-day)
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – $45.1 million ($65.8 million five-day)
3. Doctor Strange – $13.4 million ($18.9 million five-day)
4. Allied – $13 million ($18 million five-day)
5. Arrival – $11.3 million ($15.6 million five-day)
6. Trolls – $10.3 million ($14.3 million five-day)
7. Almost Christmas – $7.6 million ($9.5 million five-day)
8. Bad Santa 2 – $6.1 million ($9 million five-day)
9. Hacksaw Ridge – $5.5 million ($7.7 million five-day)
10. The Edge of Seventeen $2.7 million ($4.2 million five-day)