The Disney animated empire will once again dominate the Thanksgiving box office.
Pixar/Disney’s critically acclaimed Coco, about the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), parades into theaters everywhere Wednesday, following Tuesday-night previews. Disney and Pixar, along with the major tracking services, are projecting a five-day domestic debut of $55 million to $60 million, but there’s plenty of room for upside.
Between them, Disney Animation Studios and Pixar claim the top six five-day Thanksgiving openings of all time, not accounting for inflation. Frozen (2013) is the record holder with $93.6 million, while last year’s Moana sang its way to $82.1 million. Tangled took in $68.7 million in 2010, and The Good Dinosaur, $55.5 million in 2015. When adjusting for inflation, the 1999 Toy Story 2 supplants Frozen with nearly $141 million (unadjusted, Toy Story‘s five-day debut was $80.1 million).
Coco — which has already become the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, earning nearly $50 million to date — will play in nearly 4,000 theaters in North America, including 268 locations that will show the film in Spanish. The featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will accompany the film.
Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, Coco tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who sets out to become an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). The trouble is, his family has banned music for generations. Miguel suddenly finds himself in the magical Land of the Dead, where he teams up with the trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) in hopes of unlocking the secret behind his family history.
Elsewhere, look for director Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder to remain a strong draw over the holiday. Over the weekend, the movie opened to a far better-than-expected $27 million-plus in the U.S. after nabbing a coveted A+ CinemaScore.
The $20 million film adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s acclaimed children’s novel tells the story of a young boy with a facial deformity who attends a mainstream school for the first time (the book spawned the “Choose Kind” movement). Lionsgate, Participant Media, Walden Media and Mandeville Films partnered on Wonder, which stars Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay and Owen Wilson.
Among the flurry of films vying for adult attention and awards love is the Denzel Washington-starrer Roman J. Israel, Esq., which expands nationwide Wednesday after first opening in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend. Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) directed the legal thriller, about an lawyer whose idealism is put to the test when he joins a large L.A. law firm. The movie was rejiggered after it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to tepid reviews.
New offerings at the specialty box office include director Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill pic The Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman. Focus Features unfurls the film Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles.
On Friday, Sony Pictures Classics opens Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name in New York and Los Angeles. The critical darling stars Armie Hammer as a young academic who embarks on a love affair with his professor’s 17-year-old son (Timothee Chalamet).