A superhero squad was no match for a boy with a guitar and a dream at the box office this weekend.
“Coco,” a vibrant, multicultural film from Pixar set in Mexico, drew $71 million domestically over the five-day holiday weekend, beating out “Justice League” for the No. 1 spot. The results reinforced Disney’s Thanksgiving dominance and proved that stories with Latino themes can have wide international appeal.
The movie takes place on Día de los Muertos and follows Miguel, a boy from a family of shoemakers whose quest to reignite his musical roots sends him on a journey through the underworld. Pixar put extra care into ensuring the movie was culturally accurate, and audiences and critics responded strongly: The movie received an A-plus grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls and a 96 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation site.
With school out, families propelled “Coco” over the holiday weekend, making up 73 percent of the audience. The turnout made “Coco,” which opened in nearly 4,000 theaters, the fourth-highest-grossing Thanksgiving opener of all time, behind its Disney predecessors “Frozen” ($94 million), “Moana” ($82 million) and “Toy Story 3” ($80 million). (It probably didn’t hurt that “Coco” was paired with a 21-minute “Frozen” offshoot, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” with new songs performed by Josh Gad, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.) Audiences didn’t seem to be deterred by recent allegations against Pixar founder John Lasseter, who has taken a leave from the company.
Ticket purchases for “Coco” poured in internationally, too. The movie continued its record-setting run in Mexico, where it became the biggest release of all time. More unexpected was the movie’s success in China, where it hit No. 1 with an estimated $18.2 million over three days, according to Disney. The movie will receive an extended international rollout, with France, Germany and Spain up next.
“Great stories can come from everywhere,” Dave Hollis, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, said in a phone interview. “They can come from all over the world, and when they’re executed as well as this is, can be relatable across languages and generations.”
The estimated global total for “Coco” stands at $153.4 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. The studio has not given a price for the movie, but Pixar films generally cost roughly $175 million to produce. Disney hopes that the movie will continue to build steam during the relatively uncompetitive weeks before “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” arrives Dec. 15.
“Justice League” chugged along, with a five-day total of $63 million. The Warner Bros. superhero movie, starring Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, received mediocre reviews and lags behind previous DC blockbusters like “Wonder Woman” and “Suicide Squad.” The movie has fared much better overseas, with its cumulative global take of $481 million surpassing the $400 million it cost to make and market.
“Wonder,” Lionsgate’s family-friendly drama starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, continued its surprising run, earning $32 million over the long weekend. The breakout movie, which cost $20 million to make, has accrued $69 million.
Columbia Pictures’ “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” a Denzel Washington vehicle that examines the Los Angeles criminal court system, took in an underwhelming $6.2 million over the five-day weekend at about 1,600 domestic screens. Its production budget was $22 million.
On a much smaller scale, the well-reviewed “Call Me by Your Name,” a coming-of-age drama from Sony Classics, became the most successful limited-release opening of 2017, earning $404,874 at just four venues in New York and Los Angeles.