Thanksgiving Box Office: 'Coco' Gobbles Up 'Justice League' With $71.2M

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
'Coco'

Elsewhere, Armie Hammer's 'Call Me by Your Name' dazzles at the specialty box office, scoring the best location average since 'La La Land' last year.

Pixar's Coco is the latest title from the Disney animated empire to win the annual box-office turkey trot, posting a hearty five-day debut of $71.2 million from 3,987 theaters to score the fourth-best Thanksgiving opening of all time behind Toy Story 2, Frozen and Moana. That includes $49 million for the three-day weekend.

Coco opened on Wednesday, just as Disney Animation chief John Lasseter, one of the founders of Pixar, took a six-month leave of absence after acknowledging "painful" conversations and unspecified "missteps."

The movie, about the popular Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), was buoyed by a coveted A+ CinemaScore and a strong turnout among Hispanic moviegoers, who made up 36 percent of all ticket-buyers, according to comScore's PostTrak. Caucasians made up 43 percent of the audience.

Overseas — where Coco has already become the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico ($53.4 million to date) — the animated event film took in another $30.7 million from 22 markets for an early foreign tally of $82.2 million and $153.4 million globally. That includes a China launch of $18.2 million, where Coco soared an unprecedented 25 percent from Friday to Saturday.

In October 2014, Reel FX Studios' The Book of Life, likewise an animated film about Day of the Dead, opened to a muted $17 million.

"Pixar not only focused on telling a good story, they focused on making the film as culturally relevant as possible. I think that's one of the things that makes the film feel authentic for all audiences, and particularly Hispanic audiences, although this is a story that resonates with everyone," says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis. "And the Pixar pedigree does so much for any movie. In a world where there are so many distractions, quality cuts through."

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; last year's Moana sang its way to $82.1 million; Tangled took in $68.7 million in 2010; and The Good Dinosaur gobbled up $55.5 million in 2015. When adjusting for inflation, Toy Story 2 (1999) supplants Frozen with nearly $141 million (unadjusted, Toy Story's five-day debut was $80.1 million). Disney also claims the No. 7 spot with Enchanted ($49.1 million).

Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, Coco tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel (voiced by 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.

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment's Justice League placed No. 2 in its sophomore outing, grossing $59.7 million from 4,051 theaters for the five-day holiday frame (Wednesday-Sunday) and $40.7 million for the three-day weekend, a 57 percent decline. The superhero mashup, whose domestic total through Sunday is $171.5 million, continues to trail well behind Thor: Rangarok.

Justice League is faring better overseas, where it won the weekend with $72.2 million from 66 markets to pass the $300 million mark and land at $481.3 million globally to date. Disney and Marvel's Thor, meanwhile, raced past the $500 million threshold internationally for a global total of $790.1 million

Despite competition from Coco, director Stephen Chbosky's Wonder continued to wow families. The  pic earned a strong $32 million from 3,172 theaters for the five days and $22.3 million for the three — a narrow 19 percent decline — bringing its 10-day domestic total to $69.4 million.

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, Denzel Washington-starrer Roman J. Israel, Esq. got off to a slow start as it expanded nationwide on Wednesday. The legal thriller came in No. 9 with $6.2 million from 1,648 theaters for the five-day holiday frame, including $4.5 million for the weekend.

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) directed Roman J. Israel, Esq., which centers on a lawyer whose idealism is put to the test when he joins a large Los Angeles law firm. Sony, which rejiggered the movie after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to tepid reviews, is counting on Roman Israel to argue its case throughout the year-end holidays and awards season.

Sony Pictures Classics' Call Me by Your Name made headlines at the specialty box office after debuting Friday in four theaters in New York and L.A. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the critically acclaimed film earned $404,874 for a screen average of $101,219 — the best since La La Land in December 2016. Call Me by Your Name stars Armie Hammer as a young academic who embarks on a love affair with his professor's 17-year-old son (Timothee Chalamet).

"This movie is one of those tremendous, lyrical love stories and a coming-of-age story," says Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker.

Focus Features' Winston Churchill pic Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman, debuted Wednesday in four theaters in N.Y. and L.A. The film grossed $248,000 for a five-day screen average of $61,944.

Bleecker Street's The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, also opened Wednesday in 626 cinemas and grossed $1.8 million.

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