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Fantastic fantasies over Thanksgiving weekend


Jamaica Gleaner / NEW YORK (AP)

Disney’s South Pacific animated tale Moana fell short of a Frozen-sized debut, but nevertheless dominated the Thanksgiving box office with an estimated US$81.1 million over the five-day weekend.

The well-reviewed Moana , about a princess’s mythical journey in ancient Polynesia, earned US$55.5 million from Friday to Sunday in North America, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Though it didn’t match the 2013 Thanksgiving release of Frozen (US$93.6 million over five days in 2013), Moana (pronounced MWAH-nah) scored the second-highest Turkey Day debut ever.

Falling to second was J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them , which earned US$65.8 million over the five-day weekend and US$45.1 million over the three-day weekend. The Harry Potter spin-off from Warner Bros has brought in US$156.2 million in two weeks. Overseas, Fantastic Beasts debuted in China, where its US$41.1 million fuelled a weekend haul of US$132 million internationally.

Those two blockbusters far outpaced more star-driven films.

The Brad Pitt-Marion Cotillard World War II romance Allied opened with a mediocre US$18 million over five days. The Paramount Pictures release, directed by Robert Zemeckis, cost a hefty US$85 million to make. But for a proudly old-fashioned film built around the appeal of its stars, Allied had to largely do without Pitt’s promotional presence. The actor’s divorce proceedings from Angelina Jolie largely eclipsed the film, which drew an audience 85 per cent over the age of 25.

BAD DEBUT Warren Beatty’s first film in 15 years, the 1950s Hollywood comedy, Rules Don’t Apply , resolutely bombed with US$2.2 million over the five-day weekend. Written and directed by Beatty, who also co-stars as Howard Hughes, Rules Don’t Apply is the 79 year-old star’s first directed feature since 1998’s Bulworth . Though Beatty has worked hard to push the movie (made for about US$25 million), its slim total despite playing on 2,382 screens is one of the worst debuts of a wide release in recent years

Bad Santa 2 from Broad Green and Miramax didn’t flop as badly as Rules Don’t Apply , but it pulled in a scant US$9 million over five days. The sequel, again starring Billy Bob Thornton, comes 13 years after the 2003 original.

In limited release, a number of potential awards contenders packed cinemas. Debuting on a handful of screens were Lion (US$32,092 per-screen average), with Dev Patel, and Miss Sloane (US$21,000 per-screen average), with Jessica Chastain. Expanding from four to 48 screens was Manchester by the Sea , starring Casey Affleck. It took in US$1.3 million, with a per-screen average of US$26,048.

Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to comScore.

1. Moana , US$55.5m (US$16.3m international).

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them , US$45.1m (US$132m international).

3. Doctor Strange , US$13.4m (US$9.8m international).

4. Allied , US$13m (US$9.4m international).

5. Arrival , US$11.3m (US$6.7m international).

6. Trolls , US$10.4m (US$7.2m international).

7. Bad Santa 2 , US$6.1m (US$1.4m international).

8. Almost Christmas , US$5.7m.

9. Hacksaw Ridge , US$5.5m (US$2.1m international).

10. The Edge of Seventeen , US$3m.

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