Battle Between ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ ‘Moana’ Could Be Photo Finish

By November 26, 2016
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Thanksgiving Eve was a solid night for Disney’s latest animated feature, Moana, earning $15.7 million and answering for The Good Dinosaur‘s stumble a year ago.

But who will finish on top of this weekend? That’s anyone’s guess.

Moana earned enough money on both Thursday and Friday to stay at No. 1, according to The Numbers, but the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is really giving the Disney feature a run for its money.

moana-inset112616Moana bested Fantastic Beasts by 42 percent Wednesday, but the gap narrowed significantly after that. On Thursday, Moana earned $9.9 million compared to Fantastic Beasts’ $9.6 million, while Friday it was a bit more comfortable $21.8 million to $18.6 million. Those were gaps of just 3 percent and 17 percent respectively, quite possibly being a little too close for comfort for Disney.

Friday’s numbers moved Moana‘s holiday opening total to $47.4 million. That’s still better than where Good Dinosaur was at this point a year ago, earning $31.8 million, but the gap between that film and the eventual No. 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, was far greater than the lead Moana has on Fantastic Beasts right now – $21.3 million to $15.5 million.

Does that mean Fantastic Beasts has what it takes to overtake Moana for No. 1 after the dust settles on Sunday? Most likely not. But it sure proved the Harry Potter franchise still has some staying power despite drawing heavy competition from Disney’s animation studios.

GeekNation’s tracking had Moana with a $62.7 million weekend (not including the holiday extension), with Fantastic Beasts pulling in a healthy $44 million. Moana is 35 percent of the way there based on its Friday numbers, while Fantastic Beasts is 42 percent. That means Fantastic Beasts won’t have to work as hard on Saturday to reach its tracking goal compared to Moana, although it likely won’t be enough to overcome a nearly $19 million tracking deficit.

gooddinosaur-inset112616Comparing just Friday numbers and nothing else, Moana‘s new tracking target is around $53.5 million for the weekend, while Fantastic Beasts would finish at $39.1 million. If it hit that number, Moana‘s five-day total would reach $79.1 million compared to Good Dinosaur‘s $55.5 million opening.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange, by the way, grabbed $5.4 million Friday night, enough for third place, and pushing its new 22-day total to $197.2 million. Combined with $389.2 million overseas, it now ranks ninth this year among both domestic and global releases. And that’s likely where it will stay as Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad stands in the way on both lists, with box office that will be far too much for Doctor Strange to overcome.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael has spent more than 18 years of his way-long journalism career in entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based in New York City.