It looks like the battle between Harry Potter and Walt Disney could declare the animated wizard the victor.
Disney’s Moana, a young woman’s search for a fabled island that stars Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, dominated the Wednesday box office as the North American Thanksgiving holiday season gets under way.
Moana captured $15.7 million Wednesday night, according to The Numbers, besting Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which finished second on the day with a solid $11 million. Those were the only major films fighting for dollars as other new releases like Bad Santa 2 and Allied will likely wait for actual weekend clientele.
The box office might of Moana is redemption for Disney, which failed to capture the top spot a year ago when The Good Dinosaur managed just second place with $9.8 million. The previous week’s No. 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 picked up another $13.7 million on its way to $136.2 million to that point.
Warner Bros. likely was hoping for another holiday stumble by Disney again, but it just didn’t materialize. Still, Fantastic Beasts fared just slightly worse than Mockingjay, even in second place, and now has grossed $101.5 million to this point.
Wednesday’s results likely sets the stage for the weekend, suggesting that there will be a new No. 1 slot with Moana‘s name on it. Tracking now has it picking up a $62.7 million regular weekend (not including the holiday), compared to $44 million from Fantastic Beasts.
If the Harry Potter prequel did earn that much, it would be some silver lining for Warner Bros., as it would represent just a 41 percent drop from the previous week, when it’s more normal to see a 50 percent drop or greater between the first and second week.
Critics have really liked Moana, a film that took years of research through the various cultures on South Pacific islands like Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti.
The top five films Wednesday night earned $34.3 million, down just slightly from the $34.6 million a year ago.
Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard picked up $2.7 million, while Bad Santa opened the first night with $1.6 million.
The other wide release, Twentieth Century Fox’s Rules Don’t Apply with Warren Beatty and Lily Collins, made just $315,000, enough for fifth place in The Numbers list as of Thursday afternoon.
Full weekend box office results will be released Sunday.
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