Disney’s ‘Moana’ makes a splash at U.S. box office

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Disney’s ‘Moana’ makes a splash at U.S. box office

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LOS ANGELES - With the mega-arrival of “Moana” over the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, the reinvigorated Walt Disney Animation Studios cemented its status as cartoon-dom’s reigning powerhouse for non-sequel films.

“Moana,” one of the best-reviewed wide releases of the year, collected about $81.1 million at domestic theaters over the five-day holiday weekend, enough to rank as the second-best Thanksgiving opening on record, behind only “Frozen,” which took in $93.6 million for Disney in 2013.

Costing at least $300 million to make and market worldwide, “Moana” took in an additional $16.3 million in limited overseas release, including in China, where the response was muted. “Moana,” which navigated various controversies en route to theaters, is a Polynesia-set musical; Lin-Manuel Miranda, the virtuoso behind the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” contributed to the score.

Among other new wide-release offerings, Robert Zemeckis’ period spy drama, “Allied” (Paramount), did the best, collecting about $18 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data.

Had the film not cost a hefty $85 million to make - not including marketing expenses - that sales total would have been fine. The studio is counting on foreign audiences to pick up the slack; in partial overseas release, “Allied,” starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, took in $9.4 million.

“Bad Santa 2” (Broad Green) fared poorly. Costing an estimated $26 million to make, it sold about $9 million in tickets. The original “Bad Santa,” now considered a crude comedy classic, arrived to $22 million in Thanksgiving ticket sales in 2003, after adjusting for inflation.

Bombing outright was Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply,” a romantic comedic drama set in the late 1950s. Independently financed for $27 million and distributed by 20th Century Fox, “Rules Don’t Apply” collected a breathtakingly bad $2.2 million for the five-day period.

It was a strong weekend overall for Hollywood, as a broad array of movies, including the art-house arrival of The Weinstein Co.’s “Lion,” and sizzling holdovers, including “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” generated wide audience interest. For the year to date, total ticket sales in North America stand at $10.1 billion, a 4.5 percent increase from the same period a year ago. AP

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