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Top 10 Box Office Takeaways: ‘Moana’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Show Legs

During the usual between holiday lull, there's room for strong performers to score with audiences.

Moana

“Moana”

Disney

The post-Thanksgiving weekend is one of a handful every year that offer no new wide studio release. Last year Universal took a successful shot with the off-beat Christmas-themed “Krampus.” Its $16 million opening weekend pushed Top Ten grosses ahead by a small margin from this year’s total.

The strength of two strong holdovers — Disney’s “Moana” and Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — almost brought the numbers to par. They also pushed the totals above three similar bleak weekends (Super Bowl, post-Labor Day and Halloween) often shunned for top films.

The only new semi-wide release was Blumhouse Productions’ “Incarnate,” directed by Brad Peyton (“San Quentin”), who took advantage of the freedoms of a low budget to make a horror film. The net returns — against a low budget, digital advertising and later earnings — make the just-over $2 million total look pretty good.

The Top Ten

1. Moana (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$2,837,300 (-49.9%) in 3,875 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $7,322; Cumulative: $119,888,330

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$18,545,000 (-58.9%) in 3,988 theaters (-156); PTA: $4,650; Cumulative: $183,507,403

3. Arrival (Paramount)  Week 4; Last weekend #5

$7,300,000 (-36.3%) in 2,915 theaters (+473); PTA: $2,504; Cumulative: $73,078,514

4. Allied (Paramount)  Week 2; Last weekend #4

$7,050,000 (-44.5%) in 3,160 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,231; Cumulative: $28,927,432

5. Doctor Strange (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #3

$6.486,000 (-52.8%) in 2,935 theaters (-73); PTA: $2,210; Cumulative: $215,309,117

6. Trolls (20th Century Fox)  Week 5; Last weekend #7

$4,600,000 (-56.8%) in 3,156 theaters (-166); PTA: $1,458; Cumulative: $141,371,445

7. Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate)  Week 5; Last weekend #9

$3,400,000 (-38.4%) in 2,494 theaters (+162); PTA: $1,363; Cumulative: $57,264,956

8. Bad Santa 2 (Broad Green) Week; Last weekend #7

$3,288,699 (-46.8%) in 2,495 theaters (+25); PTA: $1,117; Cumulative: $14,289,742

9. Almost Christmas (Universal)  Week 4; Last weekend #8

$2,500,350 (-56.1%) in 1,566 theaters (-213); PTA: $1,607; Cumulative: $38,147,500

10. Incarnate (High Top) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 32; Est. budget: $5 million

$2,600,000 in 1,737 theaters; PTA: $1497; Cumulative: $2,600,000

11. Manchester by the Sea (Roadside Attractions) Week 3; Last weekend #15

$2,363,500 (+92.8%) in 156 theaters (+108); PTA: $15,151; Cumulative: $4,423,443

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Warner Bros.

“Moana” Gets Better

It’s not too early to project totals for 2016 releases. While Disney’s latest animated film “Moana” opened below several of the year’s top hits, this weekend’s performance looks like it has a shot at a mid-$300 million total, joining three other cartoon features among the year’s ultimate top eight grossing domestic titles.

“Frozen,” which got to $400 million, had a stronger start. But “Moana” is catching up fast. It is down less the 50 per cent from last weekend, compared to the 53 per cent drop for the smash hit three years back. That’s impressive.

Projecting similar performance ahead, the South Seas’ heroine’s story could get to over $350 million. That would put it behind the two biggest genre performers this year, “Finding Dory” and “The Secret Life of Pets,” both summer releases, but ahead of spring’s “Zootopia.”

“Frozen” faced little animated competition at Christmas, while “Moana” sees “Sing” encroach on its audience in a couple weeks. But expect Disney to cope with that without too much sweat.

Given the upcoming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Disney could approach a 28% studio share for the year. That would break Universal’s year-old record of 21 per cent by as much as a third —it will be by far the biggest ever.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Thrives

Warners is seeing its best return on a big-scale gamble in some time as their new J.K. Rowling franchise “Fantastic Beasts” shows legs. Its third weekend gross is close to “Harry Potter and the”Deathly Hallows: Part 1” did its third weekend after opening much bigger. With around $180 million already in the till domestically (and much more overseas), and with significant Christmas holdover (perhaps up to half its original break), it could end up around $230 million domestic.

This ongoing performance shows the film is finding its own audience separate from the head start it had from Rowling fans. It’s not a franchise that can take chances. The remaining four planned entries will need to build on the fresh framework that has been established. But the gamble looks far smarter than the initial numbers indicated.

Other Holdovers

Three mid-level performers showed some real strength with lower than usual drops, and indeed rising in their positions. “Allied,” “Arrival” and “Hacksaw Ridge” all placed higher than last weekend with reasonable falls. Those are terrific holds for a post-Thanksgiving weekends. “Arrival” actually added 473 theaters, while “Hacksaw” had 162 additional. The lack of strong new films is why.

Year-End Box-Office Record?

Important in the race to a 2016 box office record is that both “Moana” and “Fantastic Beasts” look to be stronger players over Christmas than any Thanksgiving openers last year. “Moana” is much closer to “Frozen” — a strong performer over Christmas, and “Beasts” looks to hold as well as the “Harry Potter” films that played through the holiday. With upcoming releases other than “Rogue Star: A Star Wars Story” looking uneven, there should be room for these two hits to thrive.

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