The Thanksgiving holiday is often a big one for Hollywood, with studios rolling out some of its most highly-anticipated movies to take advantage of the long holiday weekend. This year is no different, with Disney debuting its new princess Moana in theaters, with many projecting it to take the Thanksgiving box office crown this weekend. The animated adventure is already off to a good start, breaking a Tuesday box office record with $2.6 million.
The Wrap reports that Moana doubled the previous Tuesday record set by another Disney animated movie, The Good Dinosaur, which pulled in a then-record $1.3 million in the same frame last year. Moana also earned more than the Thursday night preview screenings for recent animated hits such as Zootopia ($1.7 million) and Frozen ($1.2 million). Box office analysts are predicting that Moana could earn between $70 million and $80 million for the five-day holiday weekend.
Moana was produced under a whopping $150 million budget, so if it can hit this opening weekend projection, it will take in roughly half of its massive budget. Moana is Disney's 56th animated feature, which is already a big hit with critics, scoring an impressive 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin) are directing Moana from their own screenplay, with Osnat Shurer (Oscar-nominated Pixar shorts One Man Band, Boundin) producing. The music will be composed by Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway's Hamilton, Tony-winning In the Heights), Grammy-winning composer Mark Mancina (Speed, Tarzan, The Lion King) and Opetaia Foa'i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka).
In the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island. During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore. Dwayne Johnson leads the voice cast as Maui, with newcomer Auli'i Cravalho voicing the title character. The supporting voice cast is rounded out by Alan Tudyk as Heihei, Nicole Scherzinger as Sina and Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa.
While this movie certainly looks to be another big hit for Disney this year, there was a bit of controversy swirling around this project earlier this year. Disney came under fire for a Polynesian Halloween costume that the studio pulled off the shelves after several advocates spoke out against it. The costume in question depicted the likeness of Dwayne Johnson's Maui. The brown outfit was fitted with long sleeves and pants that featured full-body tattoos. Those critical of the costume claimed it was wrong to have a child dress in the skin color of another race, with some claiming it to be worse than "Black face."
Moana will go up against Paramount's Allied, starring Brad Pitt, Broad Green Pictures' Bad Santa 2 starring Billy Bob Thornton and Rules Don't Apply starring Alden Ehrenreich over the holiday weekend. As of now, Pixar's Finding Dory is the highest-grossing animated movie this year with $1.026 billion, with Disney's Zootopia just behind it with $1.023 billion. Check back on Sunday to see how Moana fares at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.