Not that long ago, Walt Disney Animation was seen as having passed its prime, with Pixar's animated efforts earning most of the critical and audience acclaim. In recent years though, hits like Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Zootopia have helped to restore some of the luster to the Disney Animation name, finding success across both age and cultural demographic gaps. Disney's latest animated spectacle, Moana, is already on-course to join the aforementioned films as representatives of what might very well end up being a new golden age for the studio.
Featuring the voice of megastar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the shapeshifting demigod Maui, Moana came into the long Thanksgiving weekend with a wind of critical acclaim at its back, having earned an excellent 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While Moana's box office performance so far isn't yet at the level of a smash like Frozen, it's not too far behind at this point in its life cycle.
Recent projections held that Moana would bring in right around $80 million over the five-day box office period, and it did just that, earning a healthy $81.1 million domestic total. Add another $16.3 million from the film's currently tallied up international sales, and Moana currently sits at a robust $97.4 million worldwide. By comparison, Frozen - which went on to earn over $1 billion worldwide - hauled in $93.6 million domestic over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend back in 2013. While it's too early to try and predict whether Moana will catch on like Frozen did, Disney has to be thrilled at how close the former came to matching the latter's massive opening.
One sign that points to Moana having at least somewhat Frozen-like legs at the box office is its CinemaScore rating of an "A", nearly the highest the scale allows. While not an exact science, movies with such high CinemaScores tend to stick around for long periods in the box office top 10. A+ Cinema Scores do exist but are rarely awarded. One of the only films to earn that grade is Frozen.
With no other big blockbuster movies set to hit theaters until the December 16th release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it's quite likely that Moana manages to maintain the top spot for at least the next two weeks as well. There is little doubt that the Star Wars juggernaut will dethrone it, but since both are Disney releases Mickey Mouse will be laughing all the way to the bank either way.
- Moana (2016) release date: Nov 23, 2016