‘Coco’ Scores Box-Office Three-Peat as Disney Looks to Dominate December

In 2016, Disney won out the final six weeks of calendar box-office reports with a strategy for domination: End the year with a family-friendly animated film starring a young hero’s journey, followed by a “Star Wars” title.

Disney’s “Moana” topped the box office for three straight domestic weekends starting in November last year, immediately followed by the weekend three-peat of Disney/Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in December.

This year, Disney looks to have an identical finishing kick.

Disney/Pixar’s animated “Coco,” which opened during Thanksgiving week, won the North American box office for the third straight weekend, grossing $18.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Final numbers are due Monday afternoon.

“Coco” has now grossed $135.5 million domestically and $389.5 million worldwide, including breakout numbers in China and Mexico. (The film, which centers on the Day of the Dead, has grossed nearly as much in China as in North America.)

Trailing “Coco” over the domestic weekend were “Justice League” ($9.6 million), “Wonder” ($8.5 million), “The Disaster Artist” ($6.4 million) and “Thor: Ragnarok” ($6.3 million).

Disney/Marvel’s “Ragnarok” was a two-time box-office champ in November, so if the forthcoming “Star Wars” film holds to recent franchise form, then Disney will have won eight of the year’s final nine weekends (interrupted only by “Justice League” in mid-November).

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opens on Friday, is expected to gross more than $200 million in its domestic debut. Disney already owns six of the seven biggest North American openings ever when not adjusting for inflation, led by 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($248 million).

And “The Last Jedi” should rapidly put the entire “Star Wars” franchise over the $8 billion mark in worldwide box office.

From The Washington Post

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Why Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is Really Being Removed from Coco Screenings

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, one of Disney’s less lauded short films, will soon be leaving theaters after screening in front of Pixar’s Coco, the animated film inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Yet while some have suggested it’s a direct response to poor audience reactions, EW has learned that isn’t the case.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was always promoted and scheduled as a limited run, EW has confirmed, with its theatrical play slated to conclude next week, as has recently been reported.

Mashable was the first to report that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure would end its theatrical run Dec. 8. The outlet reported that Disney had “directed theaters … to remove the deeply unpopular 22-minute Frozen short” from future screenings.

In addition, a user on Reddit, identifying as a movie theater worker, claimed to have received a note from Disney regarding the decision. “Please note that the run of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure playing before Coco will end after 12/7,” the alleged note stated. “Starting on Friday 12/8 no more Olaf shorts should be up on screen. With the extra 22 minutes of running time back, we would appreciate if you could get in an extra show if possible.”

In light of the information provided to EW, the alleged note appears to be more of a reminder and less of a notification of removal. “This was always promoted as a limited run so it’s not really a story — the end of our Olaf theatrical play is coming next week,” a Disneyrepresentative told EW. “All our ads and messaging called it as such.”

Featuring the return of Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), the short — which is the first from Walt Disney Animation to be screened in front of a Pixar film — sees the snowman from Frozenon a search for holiday traditions for Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). While most Pixar shorts run around 10 minutes, this Disney Animation work runs for more than 20 minutes.

Mashable called the pairing of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure with Coco, which received glowing reviews and recently won Best Animated Film from the New York Film Critics Circle, “culturally tone-deaf.” Other critics have echoed the sentiment.

“We are creatures of habit, and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure eventually feels like the grinning house guest who won’t leave, even though the party was supposed to clear out long ago,” reported The Washington Post. “As each successive song in the four-tune reel cues up, moviegoers’ reactions can be heard to switch from laughing irritation to growing mockery to outright anger.”

From MSN/Entertainment Weekly

Disney to Direct Theaters to Remove Frozen Featurette Next Week

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure has been put on ice.

Disney has directed theaters running Coco, Pixar’s latest, to remove the deeply unpopular 22-minute Frozen short that plays in front of each screening. The removal goes into effect on Dec. 8, sources familiar with the matter confirmed to Mashable.

The request from Disney also asks that theaters use the newly freed-up time to hold extra screenings of Coco each day.

Pixar movies generally open with a completely unrelated short film, usually running no more than 10 minutes. Olaf changed the game somewhat, between its length and its reliance on a Disney Animation Studios hit (Pixar’s shorts are generally homegrown).

The Frozen short has been especially problematic for a number of reasons. Length is the biggest issue, of course, since the actual movie doesn’t start until 40 minutes after the advertised time, between trailers, ads, and Olaf. That’s a lot of extra sitting around for an audience comprised primarily of kids expecting a story about music and family, set against the backdrop of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos.

Some have also accused Disney of shameless self-promotion, for swapping in what is seen as an ad for Frozen 2 — which is out in Nov. 2019 — where there would usually be a Pixar creation. As Mashable’s Brittany Levine wrote last week, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure “felt like Disney was spitting in my popcorn for 21 minutes.”

From Mashable

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Pushes Disney to $5 Billion Worldwide in 2017 Box Office

“Thor: Ragnarok” has pushed Disney past the $5 billion mark at the 2017 worldwide box office for the third year in a row.

Disney said Thursday that it’s become the first and only studio to have reached this threshold for three consecutive years. The current totals are $1.76 billion domestically and $3.24 billion internationally.

Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” is expected to surpass $800 million globally on Thursday. Of the 17 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is the seventh to reach this milestone and the third to do so this year.

Disney also noted that it’s responsible for four of the top nine highest-grossing films of the year, including “Beauty and the Beast” with $1.26 billion ($504 million domestic and $759.7 million international); Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” with $863.6 million worldwide; and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” with $794.8 million worldwide.

Other major titles include Pixar’s “Cars 3” ($383.5 million global) and “Coco” ($178.9 million global) as well as two 2016 titles — Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” with $309.3 million during 2017 and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” with $252 million during 2017.

Disney’s final release of 2017 is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which is opening day-and-date in most of the world on Dec. 15. Early tracking has estimated that the ninth “Star Wars” movie will open at around $200 million domestically in its first weekend.

From Variety

 

Disney Casts Chinese Actress Liu Yifei in Live-Action ‘Mulan’

Disney has enlisted a Chinese actress to star in the title role of its live-action version of “Mulan.”

Liu Yifei, who also goes by Crystal Liu, will play the legendary Chinese warrior in the 2019 epic, Walt Disney Studios announced Wednesday.

Niki Caro, who directed “Whale Rider,” “North Country” and Disney’s “McFarland, USA,” will helm the project, Disney said, and Jason Reed, Chris Bender and Jake Weiner will produce. “House of Flying Daggers” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” producer Bill Kong will be executive producer.

The upcoming film is inspired by the “Ballad of Mulan,” in which a young woman impersonates a man to take her father’s place in the army, and Disney’s 1998 musical adaptation of the poem, which grossed more than $120 million at the domestic box office and $304 million worldwide. Music from the animated film also earned an Academy Award nomination.

Well known in China as a model and singer, the 30-year-old Yifei has appeared in “The Forbidden Kingdom” with Jackie Chan and “Outcast” with Nicolas Cage. She also stars in this year’s Mandarin-language fantasy adventure movie “Once Upon a Time,” which is not to be confused with ABC’s fantasy series that also featured a Mulan character played by Jamie Chung.

The studio searched for a year to find the right Mulan and considered nearly 1,000 candidates for the role, the Associated Press reported.

While several studios have faced stark criticism for whitewashing their films, Yifei’s racially sensitive casting was lauded on Twitter, much like the studio’s casting of a Middle Eastern actor for the lead role in its live-action “Aladdin” earlier this year. Many also voiced support for the diverse, star-studded cast of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King” adaptation, announced earlier this month.

From the Los Angeles Times

‘Coco’ Gobbles Up ‘Justice League’ With $71.2M Thanksgiving Box Office

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.

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).

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.

From the Hollywood Reporter

Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Strums $2.3 Million on Tuesday Night

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” has opened with a solid $2.3 million on Tuesday night.

The animated pic is on par with Disney’s “Moana,” which earned $2.6 million from previews during the same frame last year. It went on to gross $82 million over five days.

The family film has been on track to take in $55 million to $60 million at 3,948 venues during the Thanksgiving holiday period from Wednesday to Sunday. Estimates indicate that the costly “Justice League,” which has pulled in a disappointing $111.9 million in its first five days, will come in No. 1 again with about $60 million to $65 million.

“Coco” opens in nearly 2,800 3D locations, 106 premium large format screens, and 268 theaters offering the film in Spanish. Unlike “Justice League,” critics have embraced “Coco” (its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 95%).

“Coco” is already a smash in Mexico with $48.8 million — the biggest opening of all time in that market — following its Oct. 20 premiere at the Morelia Film Festival. The central character, voiced by Anthony Gonzalez, is Miguel, a 12-year-old who dreams of becoming a musician. He meets Hector (Gael García Bernal) and sets off to explore his family history in the Land of the Dead.

Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) directed and Adrian Molina (story artist on “Monsters University”) co-directed the film. Other members of the voice cast include Ana Ofelia Murguía, Jaime Camil, Sofía Espinosa, Luis Valdez, Lombardo Boyar, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Edward James Olmos, Alanna Ubach, Selene Luna, Alfonso Arau, Herbert Siguenza, Octavio Solis, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, and Blanca Araceli.

Disney-Pixar does not provide estimates of the production costs but industry sources say that the price tag is usually in the $175 million to $200 million range.

The Thanksgiving holiday period is prime time for moviegoing, particularly for opening Disney family titles. Disney’s “Frozen” set the record in 2013 with $93 million during the five days, followed by last year’s “Moana” with $82 million, “Toy Story 2” with $80 million, and “Tangled” with $68 million.

Lionsgate’s family drama “Wonder” will also be a factor. The Jacob Tremblay vehicle opened far above expectations with $27 million on its debut weekend and took in $5.7 million on Tuesday, up 44% from Monday, for a five-day total of  $37.2 million.

From Variety

Disney’s ‘Prince Charming’ Movie Lands Writer-Director Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky, whose drama Wonder opens this weekend, has signed on to tackle a Disney fairy tale.

The writer-director will pen, with an eye to helm, Prince Charming, the studio’s reimagined take on the fairy and folk tale trope.

The movie reunites Chbosky with David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman of Mandeville Films/TV, who produced Wonder. Hoberman and Lieberman are producing Prince Charming along with Tripp Vinson.

Matt Fogel wrote the initial script for the project, which is a revisionist take on the character popularized in Disney’s own fairy tale movies such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The story takes a look at the iconic prince from the point of view of his brother, who never quite lived up to the family name.

Chbosky wrote the book and then subsequently penned and directed the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the acclaimed 2012 teen drama the starred Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. He also worked on Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast (which also was produced by Mandeville) as a writer.

Wonder is the adaptation of the R.J. Palacio young adult novel that tells the story of a boy born with a facial deformity who enters fifth grade. The movie, which stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, has been receiving strong reviews.

From The Hollywood Reporter

Rian Johnson to Create New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy

The Walt Disney Co. announced Thursday that Rian Johnson will craft a new trilogy for the “Star Wars” universe, greatly expanding the director’s command over the ever-expanding space saga created by George Lucas.

The announcement, made by Disney chief Bob Iger on a call with investment analysts, constituted the most ambitious new foray into the “Star Wars” galaxy, moving well beyond the original nine-film framework imagined by Lucas. Disney also announced a live-action “Star Wars” series that will debut on its streaming service which is set to launch in 2019.

The new films will be separate from the Skywalker saga. “Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored,” Disney said in a statement.

That Johnson will preside over a new “Star Wars” trilogy altogether confirms his status as the franchise’s new chief guardian. It’s a considerable amount of trust to be placed in the 43-year-old director of 2012′s “Looper,” even before audiences see his first “Star Wars” installment. J.J. Abrams, who kick-started the dormant franchise with “The Force Awakens,” is set to return for the untitled Episode IX — the third film in the current trilogy.

“He’s a creative force, and watching him craft ‘The Last Jedi’ from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career,” Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy said of Johnson. “Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”

Johnson will write and direct the first film in the trilogy, working with his producing partner Ram Bergman.

“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on ‘The Last Jedi,’ ” Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement. “‘Star Wars’ is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”

Iger also revealed that Disney is also planning series for its streaming service based on the 2011 Pixar film “Monsters Inc.” and the Disney Channel movie franchise “High School Musical.” Iger said he expects the service to be priced “substantially below” Netflix’s $10-a-month subscription price.

From CNBC

Cast for Live Action ‘The Lion King’ Announced

The live-action take on Disney’s The Lion King, coming to theatres in 2019, definitely has the lion’s share of amazing voice talent ready to bring these classic characters to life. James Earl Jones previously announced he would be reprising his role as Mufasa, and Donald Glover shared that he “just can’t wait to be king” as Simba in the upcoming film. Ready for even more star power? Beyoncé Knowles Carter––yep, Beyoncé!––will voice Nala, Simba’s lifelong friend and eventual love interest. Taking on the voices of the dynamic duo Timon and Pumbaa are funny guys Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen. Alfre Woodard will voice Sarabi, Chiwetel Ejiofor will lend his voice to the mischievous Scar, and John Oliver will take on the sensible Zazu. See the full cast below!

We just can’t WAIT to see The Lion King! Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting film.

From D23