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The Thanksgiving weekend is always a big one at the movies, especially for the kind that bring families together. But Disney's newest feature, Moana, may be about to leave them all in the dust. The Tuesday night preview screenings of Moana have set a record for the long weekend, and not by a little bit. They took the previous record, and they doubled it.
Long weekends notwithstanding, Tuesday evenings are not huge movie nights for people. But, because lots of people have at least a four day weekend during Thanksgiving, most films are released on Wednesday rather than Friday. Last night's previews of Moana set a record by bringing in $2.6 million according to Variety. While that may not seem like a great deal, even for preview nights, the previous record was set last year when The Good Dinosaur did $1.3 million on the same night.
Setting box office records seems to happen all the time, so the fact that this year outdid last year isn't by itself that big deal, but doubling the number is huge. When The Good Dinosaur set the record last year it outdid the preview numbers for Frozen and Big Hero 6. Moana's number is also significantly better than $1.7 million that Zootopia did earlier this year.
It's clear that audiences are excited by the newest Disney musical. They're not the only ones. The reviews have been nearly universally positive. Moana currently sits with a 99% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes (nobody is quite sure what's up with the one guy who didn't like it).
It's looking to be a huge Thanksgiving weekend for Moana and Disney. It's not too surprising. Disney owns that five-day Thanksgiving weekend, eight of the top ten box office champs ever were produced by the Mouse House. Estimates are putting Moana in the $70-$80 million range for the weekend, which puts in in contention for the number two spot, currently held by Toy Story 2 at just over $80 million. Of course, Frozen owns the top spot with over $90 million. Could Moana outdo expectations and topple the biggest animated movie ever?
One of the reasons that Frozen became so big was the way that it balanced traditional Disney animation and storytelling while simultaneously subverting the same. Moana does more than a little of this itself, so it's possible we could be standing on the edge of another monster hit for Disney. While Frozen sort of took people by surprise, it looks like everybody saw Moana coming a mile away.
Will you be taking the family to see Moana this weekend as a Thanksgiving treat? We're not going to tell you your business, but you totally should.