Disney-Pixar's Coco is on track to continue the studio's Thanksgiving winning streak after claiming victory over Justice League at the Friday domestic box office. The latest from the revolutionary animation studio is following in the footsteps of prior Disney hits like Frozen and Moana, which posted the two biggest Thanksgiving openings ever in the U.S. with $93 million and $82 million respectively. Justice League, meanwhile, continues to have a sluggish start as it hurtles toward commercial disappointment.
Any time Pixar releases a movie is a big deal, and it's amplified when the premiere happens on the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. Coco also drew mostly strong reviews and an A+ CinemaScore, easily beating Justice League's B+ grade. The Friday numbers are in, and they are tracking Coco toward an expected weekend win over Justice League and one of the biggest Thanksgiving openings ever.
As reported by Variety on Saturday, Coco followed up a Thanksgiving win by outpacing Justice League in North America on Friday with $18.6 million at 3,987 locations, compared to the latter's $16.5 million at 4,051 locations. The animated musical has grossed $40.8 million in its first three days in theaters, topping Justice League's $35.5 million over the same time frame. Coco is projected to end up with about $71 million in its first five days, which would easily beat Justice League's $59 million projection and put it just behind fellow Disney movies Frozen and Moana for the third-biggest Thanksgiving opening weekend in the U.S.
The budget for Coco has not been officially released, but Variety estimates it to be in the $175-200 million range. A victorious opening weekend could put it on pace to be closer to recent Pixar successes like Finding Dory ($486 million) than to underwhelming affairs like Cars 3 ($152 million) or The Good Dinosaur ($123 million). Justice League's budget, however, is believed to have been in the $300 million range and could end up losing up to $100 million for Warner Bros. With just $147.3 million domestically over its first eight days (compare that to Wonder Woman's $163.5 million), it will almost certainly be the biggest commercial letdown for DC's extended cinematic universe.
It's no surprise that families are flocking to see Coco this weekend more than Justice League or any other options. Disney-Pixar has long been one of the most bankable properties in entertainment, and with Coco they've made another movie that resonated greatly with audiences and could see similar success at the box office. After Cars 3 sputtered compared to other Pixar offerings over the summer, Coco appears to be putting the studio back on track.
The news of the Friday box office is only the latest disappointment for Warner Bros., who could be rethinking the future of the DC cinematic universe after Justice League's relative failure at the box office. There's evidence that the fan reaction to the movie (83 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes) has been much better than the critical response (41 percent as of Saturday), but the franchise's declining box office totals are proof enough that Justice League is simply a dissatisfying effort for WB. That's especially true when compared to the continued success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Ragnarok. As its commercial numbers dwindle, Justice League's unfortunate reality continues to set in.