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Box Office Report: Disney’s ‘Moana’ Tops Thanksgiving Holiday with $81.1 Million Debut

South Pacific adventure featuring the voice of Dwayne Johnson as the demigod Maui scores number-two Thanksgiving launch of all time among animated films.

In another giant win for animated features -- and Walt Disney Animation Studios -- Moana had one of the best five-day Thanksgiving debuts of all time for an animated film, taking in $81.1 million from 3,875 theaters to seize the number-two Thanksgiving launch of all time behind fellow Disney title Frozen ($93.6 million), according to studio estimates.

Pixar’s Toy Story 2 previously held the second place slot with a domestic debut of $80.1 million. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire remains the five-day Thanksgiving record holder among all film titles with $109.9 million.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, Moana is the sweeping, CG-animated movie about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. The film features Dwayne Johnson as the voice of the demigod Maui alongside newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as Moana. Overseas Moana was released in a handful of markets, taking in $16.3 million, including $12.3 million in China, where it opened on November 25, for a global tally of $99.3 million. The film opens next weekend in France, Spain, the U.K., Russia and Mexico along with Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Iceland, South Africa, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Paraguay and Peru.

Coming in at number two, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them continued to cast a spell in its second week at the box office for distributor Warner Bros. J.K. Rowling’s new spinoff prequel to the Harry Potter franchise, starring Eddie Redmayne as wizard Newt Scamander, made $65.8 million for the holiday weekend for a total of $156.2 million.

The film added an additional $132 million at the international box office, driven by openings in China ($41.1 million) and Japan ($15.5 million). Fantastic Beasts has now made a total of $473.7 million globally, ranking 13th among all of 2016 releases. The three-day opening in China surpasses the lifetime grosses of all other films in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise in that territory outside of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 ($60.8 million).

Doctor Strange, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Marvel super hero, continued to thrive in its fourth weekend, taking third place with $18.9 million for a domestic total of $205.1 million. The effects-laden super hero movie also crossed $616 million globally, placing it ninth among all 2016 releases worldwide with a January 2017 opening in Japan still to come.

DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, also in its fourth week in wide release, came in sixth place with $10.6 million for a new domestic total of $135.4 million. Overseas the animated musical directed by Mike Mitchell and featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick has made $156.4 million for a total of $291.8 million globally.

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.