“Moana” impresses with Thanksgiving box office second to only “Frozen”

LOS ANGELES — Disney’s “Moana” sailed to No.1 at the box office over the long holiday weekend, with estimated ticket sales of $81.1 million — more than enough to bump last week’s chart-topper, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” to second place.

Even more encouraging for Disney, though, might be that “Moana,” an animated musical about a Polynesian princess on a mission to save her island, now holds the record for the second-biggest five-day Thanksgiving opening.

Its haul from Wednesday to Sunday beat that of Pixar’s “Toy Story 2,” which raked in $80.1 million in 1999. Early box-office returns for “Moana” came close to matching figures for 2013’s “Frozen,” which leads the five-day Thanksgiving list. But in the end, Disney’s summery adventure fell short of the wintry crown holder’s unsurpassed $93.5 million opening.

In fact, with the addition of “Moana” (and Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar), nine of the 10 movies with the biggest Thanksgiving openings are Disney titles, according to Box Office Mojo, including “Tangled,” “The Good Dinosaur” and “Enchanted.”

“Moana,” with Dwayne Johnson as a tattooed demi-god who accompanies a princess (voiced by 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho) on her journey, was helped to No.1 by rave reviews and an A grade from the audience-polling firm CinemaScore.

The animated film also benefited from widespread buzz about its songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

Early Sunday, the “Moana” soundtrack sat at No. 3 on iTunes’ album chart, ahead of titles by Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Miranda Lambert.

Another family-oriented picture, Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” took in an estimated $65.7 million from Wednesday to Sunday.

The spinoff from the blockbuster “Harry Potter” franchise — it’s the first of five planned “Fantastic Beasts” titles — opened Nov. 18 and has taken in $156 million.

The more grown-up “Allied” — Paramount’s World War II drama directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Brad Pitt — brought in $18 million over the five-day weekend to debut at No. 4, behind Marvel’s returning “Doctor Strange,” which made $18.9 million.

Two other new movies failed to meet expectations.

Broad Green Pictures’ “Bad Santa 2,” with Billy Bob Thornton in the title role, opened to $9 million — considerably less than the $16 million analysts had predicted, and shy of the $16.8 million the first “Bad Santa” opened with in 2003.

And Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply,” hampered by mixed reviews, disappointed with $2.1 million over five days in theaters.

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