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Animated ‘Moana’ leads Thanksgiving box office

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Disney’s “Moana” sailed to the top of the Thanksgiving box office, earning a mighty $81.1 million over the five-day holiday period and $55.5 million for the weekend.

Its success builds on the studio’s hot streak. Disney has released five of the year’s ten highest grossing films, is the leader in terms of market share, and is poised to set a new record for annual grosses. Its hits include “Captain America: Civil War,” “Zootopia,” “Doctor Strange,” “Finding Dory,” “The Jungle Book,” and now “Moana,” with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” waiting in the wings.

Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis said that the success of “Moana” and others like it justified the company’s decision to make fewer films, while taking bigger bets. Part of that strategy involved shelling out billions of dollars to buy Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm, the brands behind “Toy Story,” “The Avengers,” and “Star Wars.”

“We are working with the greatest brands and we’re doing big, broad storytelling that resonates domestically, but has the power to transcend borders and languages and cultures around the world,” said Hollis.

While “Moana” thrived, other new releases weren’t as fortunate. Paramount’s “Allied” earned $18 million over the five-day period and $13 million for the weekend, a weak result given its $85 million budget. The film stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as spies who marry only to have their love affair become entangled in a larger conspiracy.

Robert Zemeckis (“Flight”) directed the picture.

Pitt has gone through a bruising divorce from Angelina Jolie that limited his participation in publicizing the film. The actor didn’t do television interviews or magazine spreads, which might have helped raise “Allied’s” profile. The film also drew a much older crowd, with 39% of ticket-buyers coming in over the age of 50. (Reuters/Brent Lang)

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