Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen 2 is ending the cold snap at the November box office, where it’s on course for a record U.S. debut of $110 million to $120 million.
It would be the best-ever opening for an animated pic launching outside of summer, and one of the top five starts ever for any animated title, not adjusted for inflation. Friday’s queenly haul of $41.8 million includes $8.5 million in Thursday night previews.
The first Frozen, which opened domestically the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2013, set a holiday animated record with a five-day gross of $93 million, including $67 million for the three-day weekend. It went on to earn $1.28 billion at the global box office to become the top-grossing animated film of all time, not adjusted for inflation.
The November box office could use some good news. Through Thursday, ticket sales for the month were running 27 percent behind last year following such misses as Terminator: Dark Fate and Doctor Sleep. The strength of Frozen 2 should help to narrow the year-over-year deficit of 6 percent.
Frozen 2 is also off to a red-hot start overseas, where it should easily skate past the $150 million mark this weekend after earning $18.6 million in its first two days from a handful of countries. The movie is opening in a total of 26 markets, including major territories China, South Korea, France, Germany and Japan, where the 2013 Frozen grossed a historic $249 million.
In Frozen 2, Kristen Bell (Princess Anna) and Idina Menzel (Queen Elsa) reprise their beloved roles. The gang from the original movie will embark on a new journey that goes beyond their homeland of Arendelle, and this time Anna will be joining Elsa on the adventure.
Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana also return from the first film, while new castmembers include Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also return as co-directors.
The sequel earned an A- from audiences, compared to an A+ for Frozen. Reviewers also liked it less.
Elsewhere, Sony’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the late Fred Rogers, started off with an estimated $4.5 million on Friday for an projected debut of $13 million to $14 million, in line with expectations.
Marielle Heller directed the critically acclaimed film, which isn’t a biopic or traditional biographical drama. Instead the feel-good movie traces the real-life friendship between journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and Rogers.
Receiving an A CinemaScore, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood looks to come in behind holdover Ford v Ferrari, which is driving toward a second-place finish in its sophomore outing with a gross in the $15 million range. Both Ford v Ferrari and Beautiful Day are competing for older audiences.
The Russo brothers-produced 21 Bridges, a cop thriller starring Chadwick Boseman, is expected to follow in fourth place with $9 million to $10 million, also in line with expectations.
From STXfilms, MWM Studios and Huayi Brothers Pictures, the R-rated pic is challenged by mediocre reviews. Audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore.
Frozen 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and 21 Bridges are all positioned to take advantage of the lucrative Thanksgiving box office corridor. On Nov. 27, two other holiday offerings will enter the fray: Knives Out and Queen & Slim.
At the specialty box office, Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters is on course for a so-so opening location weekend average in the $27,000 range from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins star in the well-reviewed whistleblower drama.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.