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Weekend Predictions: Moana Takes on Beast Over Thanksgiving Weekend

November 23rd, 2016


Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most lucrative weekends of the year and this time around we could have a relatively close battle between a new release, Moana, and last week’s number one film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. At least that’s what analysts thought, before we saw the preview numbers. None of the rest of the new wide releases are expected to do much. Allied could become a midlevel hit, but I would be surprised if its budget was only midlevel. Bad Santa 2 is on its way to becoming another comedy sequel that bombs. If Rules Don’t Apply’s previews are any indication, it will become one of the worst box office performers of the year. This weekend last year, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 beat The Good Dinosaur rather easily. However, Fantastic Beasts started slower than Moana, so I think we will have a new winner this week.

Moana is being released by Disney. So far this year, the four biggest hits worldwide are all Disney films. I don’t think Moana is going to reach the top five worldwide, but I can’t rule it out either. The film set the record for biggest preview showing on a Tuesday by an animated film with $2.6 million, which is almost double the previous record for an animated film, set by The Good Dinosaur last year (although it’s way behind the $30 million in preview night box office recorded by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse back in 2010). I don’t think Moana will open twice as fast as The Good Dinosaur did, as The Good Dinosaur was aimed at a younger audience and that hurt its preview numbers. Fortunately, this film’s reviews are nearly 100% positive and not only is it nearly assured an Oscar nomination for Best Feature-Length Animated Film, but it should earn another for Best Original Song, and it might even earn wider Oscar nods. As for its box office chances, it could make between $80 million and $90 million over the five-day weekend. I’m going with $84 million, including $60 million over the three-day weekend.

The last Harry Potter film to play during Thanksgiving was Deathly Hallows, Part I. That film collapsed 61% during the three-day portion of the weekend and if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were to do the same, it would only make $29 million / $44 million over the weekend. However, I think that’s being pessimistic. Deathly Hallows, Part I was, as the name implies, the first part of a two-part adaptation. These films tend to have really poor legs, because the films are all setup, while the payoff is in Part II. It is possible we will see a collapse like this, but I would call it the worst-case scenario. On the high end, there’s a chance Fantastic Beasts makes $44 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. I think the high end is more likely than the low end and I’m going with $40 million / $58 million.

None of the new releases are direct competition for Doctor Strange so that should help it hold on better than most films in the top five. Look for $15 million / $21 million over the weekend for a total of $207 million after four weeks of release. It is doing even better internationally and it is safe to call it a monster hit.

Trolls does have to deal with direct competition, but should still do well with $14 million / $19 million over the weekend. It already has more domestically than it cost to make, so breaking even is all but assured at this point.

Allied is a World War II spy thriller with a cast big enough that it should be earning louder buzz than it is. The reviews are good, but not great, but there is also not much direct competition this weekend. The film pulled in $600,000 during previews last night, which is fine… I guess. It has a shot at third place with $16 million / $22 million over the weekend, but fifth place with $13 million / $18 million is more likely. The film costs a reported $65 million to $85 million to make, so this is not a good start, but it could be worse.

Bad Santa 2 only managed $350,000 last night, which is well below the $550,000 The Night Before earned during its previews last year. Granted, those were on a Thursday, but that film also earned 66% positive reviews. By comparison, Bad Santa 2’s Tomatometer Score is a mere 28% positive. If Bad Santa 2 is lucky, it will crack $10 million over the five-day weekend, but that isn’t a sure thing. I’m going with just under $7 million / just over $9 million during its opening weekend. It would take a Christmas miracle to match the original at the box office.

Finally there’s Rules Don’t Apply, which only managed $65,000 last night. I double-checked. There isn’t a digit missing from that number. This is among the worst previews I’ve seen. The reviews have fallen to below the overall positive level, which will further hurt its box office chances. I think it will miss the Mendoza Line by a serious margin, and earn less than $4 million over the three day weekend and approximately $5 million over five days.

- Moana Comparisons
- Allied Comparisons
- Bad Santa 2 Comparisons
- Rules Don’t Apply Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, Trolls, Moana, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange, Allied, Bad Santa 2, Rules Don’t Apply, Harry Potter, Bad Santa