Update #2: Thanksgiving weekend is often one of the highest-grossing weekends of the year, and this year looks to be no exception. Disney’s animated musical Moana looks to continue Disney’s amazing streak of box office hits in 2016 and should take first place this weekend easily. Paramount’s war drama Allied, Broad Green Pictures’ holiday comedy Bad Santa 2, and Fox’s period drama Rules Don’t Apply also open. And last weekend’s leader, Warner Bros.’ fantasy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them could come in a likely second place with a mild second-weekend decline.
- Disney clearly knows how to dominate Thanksgiving weekend. Of the top eight highest Thanksgiving opening weekends of all time, adjusted for inflation, Disney has posted seven. Their Thanksgiving hits include such modern-day classics as Frozen, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Tangled, the 101 Dalmatians live-action remake, Flubber, and A Bug’s Life. There is perhaps no other combo of studio and weekend that consistently dominates quite like Disney and Thanksgiving.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda of Broadway’s Hamilton fame composed all the songs for this new installment. If this soundtrack gets played on repeat in every home in America with young children, as Frozen in 2013-14, Moana could potentially even approach that film’s $400 million box office.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices one of the two lead characters, and he has been on one of the hottest box-office streaks in the past three years. All three of his most recent films grossed at least $125 million: June’s Central Intelligence with $127.4 million, last year’s San Andreas with $155.1 million, and last year’s Furious 7 with an eye-popping $353.0 million. Voicing a cartoon character isn’t quite the same, but still.
- Two news items from the past week alone could boost awareness of Moana: controversy over the Hamilton cast criticizing Vice President-elect Mike Pence from the stage while Pence as in the audience, and Johnson being named People Magazine’s annual Sexiest Man Alive.
- There aren’t too many downsides here, in fact almost none. But the strength of Disney musicals at the box office has traditionally been dependent on the quality of the songs. If this film’s original songs turn out to be underwhelming, this could end up more like Disney’s 2009 animated musical The Princess and the Frog, which earned $104.4 million. That was a decent sum, but a fraction of what some of the top Disney animated musicals have earned. What was the difference? The general consensus was that the music in Frog was fine but nothing special.
- Here at Boxoffice Pro, we usually try to avoid the celebrity gossip element of the movie business. But there’s no avoiding it here. Rumors abound that star Brad Pitt may have had an extramarital affair with costar Marion Cotillard, although Cotillard took to Instagram to deny the rumors. Still, audiences may want to see if the on-screen chemistry between the two is “real,” much as they did in 2005 for the then-rumored couple of Pitt and Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which earned $186.3 million at the time, which would be around $250.2 million adjusted for inflation today.
- The tale of two spies who fall for each other during World War II, when Pitt begins to suspect that Cotillard could secretly be double-crossing the Allies and spying for Hitler, could appeal to everyone from teenagers to adults. (Although mostly adults.)
- Early reviews have been positive. Cotillard is an Oscar winner, Pitt is a three-time Oscar nominee, and director Robert Zemeckis is an Oscar winner for directing. The talent is certainly there for a great film and a possible awards contender.
- The film comes out only three weeks after fellow World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge, which has been holding surprisingly strong at the box office. It had by far the lowest percentage drop of the top 20 films in last week’s box office, declining only 37.3 percent, while the next-lowest was Arrival with 49.6 percent.
- The combination of romance and survival story is also similar to Passengers, which comes out a few weeks later. That obviously wouldn’t affect Allied‘s opening weekend, but could impact its cumulative gross.
- Allied in some ways seems similar to 2010’s The Tourist: with the romantic angle, holiday release, and two of the biggest A-list movie stars — in that case Angelina Jolie, so also featuring one half of the Jolie-Pitt couple alongside Johnny Depp. But after weak reviews, that film only grossed $67.6 million in 2010 (and arguably started Depp’s downward slide this decade in both critical reviews and box office).
Bad Santa 2 (Broad Green Pictures)
- The original Bad Santa was a surprise hit in 2003, earning $60.0 million or about $85.6 million adjusted for ticket price inflation.
- The original also had a cumulative-to-opening multiple of 4.8 to 1, which is very high for a film debuting wide release and indicated positive word of mouth as time went along. So even if the sequel opens low — perhaps fourth place after Moana, Allied, and the holdover Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — it may still hold on solidly at the box office in weeks to come, especially as Christmas itself is still a solid month away.
- An old man swearing and misbehaving badly just got elected president a few weeks ago — perhaps it could be a winning box office formula now too!
- Was anybody really asking for a Bad Santa sequel? While several R-rated comedies have been box office hits in the past few years — like the Hangover series, Trainwreck, Bridesmaids, and The Heat — R-rated sequels haven’t performed nearly as well. This year’s Zoolander 2 and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising were both box office disappointments that came in below their predecessors, as did 2013’s The Hangover Part III.
- The title character is played by Billy Bob Thornton, who arguably hasn’t had a live-action box office hit since Eagle Eye in 2008 — and even in that film, he played a supporting role. Look at September’s Bridget Jones’s Diary starring Renee Zellweger, which earned by far the lowest in the trilogy after Zellweger hadn’t starred in a wide-release film at all since 2010.
Rules Don’t Apply (Fox)
- The romantic drama about an actress and her driver who both know Howard Hughes during the 1950s could appeal to an adult demographic as counterprogramming. While nobody expects this to be a box office smash, it could potentially be a sleeper hit if reviews are good.
- The movie marks the long-awaited return of the legendary Warren Beatty, in his first directed film since 1998’s Bulworth and his first film at all since acting in 2001’s Town & Country.
- Just like the aforementioned concerns about Billy Bob Thornton’s box office draw for Bad Santa 2, can Beatty still bring in crowds? If anything, his ability to do so seems even less likely than Thornton’s.
- “Adult drama set in the mid-20th century” is also a perfect description of Allied, which should almost certainly beat it at the box office and steal away much of this film’s potential audience in the process.
- Buzz has been relatively muted. Most dramas released in November or December are angling for awards contention, and this one was being talked about as a possibility in very early projections months ago before anybody had even seen it, but so now it’s barely making a splash on that front.
Update #1: This Thanksgiving weekend is set to deliver another robust November frame as Disney’s Moana leads the charge in a market already filled with strong performers. Our final 3- and 5-day forecasts for this weekend’s new releases are below. Check back later today for our complete analysis and 3-day forecasts for the remainder of the top ten.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro weekend forecast in the table below.
Boxoffice Pro predicts the top 10 films this weekend will earn a cumulative $180.17 million. That would be 7.3 percent above the $167.80 million earned by the top 10 films on this weekend last year, when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 led for the second consecutive frame with $52.00 million. It would also be 22.9 percent above the $146.55 million earned by the top 10 films last weekend.
|Rank||Title||Distributor||Weekend||% decline||Domestic Total through Sunday, November 27|
|2||Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them||Warner Bros.||$36,500,000||-51%||$138,950,000|
|7||Bad Santa 2||Broad Green Pictures||$6,750,000||New||$10,000,000|
|9||Rules Don’t Apply||Fox||$4,500,000||New||$6,300,000|
Shawn Robbins, Jesse Rifkin, and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.
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