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Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Gets Animated Response at Box Office Over Holiday Weekend

Family film nets $71.2M over Thanksgiving weekend despite Lasseter scandal.

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Disney has a lot to be thankful for during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The studio’s latest animated film, Coco, from the Pixar banner, debuted with $71.2 million at 3,987 screens in North America — the third-best Thanksgiving opening ever behind three other Disney titles. (Frozen with notched $93 million in 2013; Moana netted $82 million last year; and Toy Story 3 topped $80 million in 2010.)

And it did those numbers opening just a few days after Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, the most powerful figure in animation, took a six-month leave of absence in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women. The burgeoning scandal has cast a pall on the animation studio.

But ComScore senior box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that many, if not most, movie-goers don’t necessarily know who Lasseter or connect the scandal to Coco.

“As a studio, (Disney) wants to have control over a better PR scenario, but the truth is that by the time that news broke, most kids had their hearts set on going to see the movie already,” Dergarabedian told RealClearLife. “What parent is going to explain to their children the uncomfortable reason why they don’t want to take them to go see that movie?”

Dergarabedian says the real damage to the Pixar brand is potentially to projects deeper in the production pipeline because of the uncertainty at the leadership level.

But Coco, the tale of a music-loving boy who gets trapped in the Land of the Dead while searching for his mariachi idol, had plenty of magic this weekend. Particularly impressive is that the movie leans into its diversity in its representation of Mexican culture at a time when the country is divided on whether or not to build a wall on the Southern border.

“This story is specific to the Mexican culture, but it’s also universal to everyone,” said Dergarabedian. “The filmmakers really built a bridge.”

Finishing in second place, Warner Bros.’s Justice League lassoed $60 million at 4,051 screens in its second season. Impressive, but not as dynamic as Thor: Ragnarok, from arch-rival Marvel, did over the same period.