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'Moana' takes over the box office lead for Thanksgiving Day

'Moana' takes over the box office lead for Thanksgiving Day
Auli'i Cravalho voices the title character in "Moana." (Disney)

"Moana" paddled its way to the top of the Thanksgiving Day box office, with an impressive opening so far for the Disney animated tent-pole feature.

The film, a musical romp set in the South Pacific and featuring voice work from Dwayne Johnson and songs by “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, debuted on Wednesday to a strong $15 million, leading into an estimated Thursday take of nearly $10 million, good for a $25 million haul so far this weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

The film earned incredibly strong reviews, including a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Times' Justin Chang said that "Those seeking a vacation from everyday reality without springing for that last-minute island getaway will scarcely believe their good fortune."

"Moana" knocked "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," the Harry Potter-adjacent film starring Eddie Redmayne, from the top spot.  Despite slipping to second, "Beasts"  is having a strong weekend, pulling in $11 million on Wednesday and $9 million on Thursday. That brings its total to more than $110 million in its first week of release.

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"Doctor Strange," Disney's latest Marvel superhero extravaganza, continued to be a force on the charts, pulling in $2.5 million to keep it at No. 3. Its total earnings in 21 days of release is closing in on $200 million. Brad Pitt's World War 2 drama "Allied" came in at expectations, with just over $2 million on Thursday for a two-day total of $5 million. The alien-invasion thriller "Arrival" continued to stay strong on word of mouth, hovering right at $2 million on Thursday for a total of $51 million in two weeks of release.

The only soft-looking opening might be "Bad Santa 2," Billy Bob Thornton's comedic return as the unsavory St. Nick. It washed down its hard-drinking humor with a box office of just more than $1 million on Thursday, for a two-day total of almost $3 million. The Times said that "'Bad Santa 2' relies entirely too much on the salty stuff, offering an opportunity for audiences to titter at the fire hose of vile gutter humor that leaves no one unsullied, and delves into some truly dark places."

Rounding out the top 10, "Trolls" took home $1 million on Thursday to raise its three-week total to nearly $125 million; "Hacksaw Ridge" brought in $1 million on Thanksgiving Day for a three-week total of $46 million; "Almost Christmas" added $1 million on Thursday for a two-week total of $29 million; and "The Edge of Seventeen" added $500,000 on Thursday for a seven-day total of just over $7 million.

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