‘Moana’ Holds Off Aniston’s Comedy to Stay Atop Box Office

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“Moana” topped the box office for a third straight weekend, brushing off competition from Jennifer Aniston’s new holiday comedy.

Walt Disney Co.’s animated tale about a South Pacific island princess generated
an estimated $18.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, ComScore Inc. said in an e-mailed statement Monday. The Paramount Pictures comedy “Office Christmas Party” placed second with $16.9 million in its debut.

Theaters in North America enjoyed a pre-Christmas weekend pick-up in attendance even though the comedy was the only new wide release. Studios have been keeping the release schedule light as they gear up for a holiday bonanza that will start with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” next weekend.

For more on “Rogue One,” click here.

In “Office Christmas Party,” Aniston portrays a tough chief executive who tries to close the office branch run by her brother, played by T.J. Miller. The brother and his chief technology officer, played by Jason Bateman, decide to hold an epic holiday party in a bid to win over a client and keep their jobs. Critics were split, with only 44 percent giving the film positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com.

The movie cost $45 million to produce, before marketing costs, and was set to generate $20 million in its opening weekend, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. The same analysts had predicted $18.9 million for “Moana.”

The weekend also featured the debut in limited release of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s musical “La La Land,” the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar for best picture this year, The film earned $881,000 in five theaters for a record average of $176,000, ComScore said.

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