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'Coco' to sweeten box office as audiences sour on 'Justice League'

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'Coco' to sweeten box office as audiences sour on 'Justice League'

Walt Disney Co.'s Pixar will look to save the fall box office in a way that superheroes did not.

The studio will lean on a proven long Thanksgiving weekend to release animated musical "Coco" about a young boy's journey to the spirit realm in Dia de los Muertos stylings.

Forecasters are bullish on "Coco," especially after the film set a country record in Mexico with an opening gross of $48.8 million, according to Variety. For the U.S. holiday weekend, Variety and Deadline Hollywood expects "Coco" to run a five-day opening from $55 million to $60 million. Deadline also notes that "Coco" could get an additional bump if Hispanic families turn out in higher numbers than expected. For its part, BoxOffice.com tracks a three-day Thanksgiving weekend forecast at $51 million.

SNL ImageSource: Pixar

That would put "Coco" roughly on the lower side of the scale in a list of comparable films compiled by Kagan, which includes other Pixar titles including "Inside Out," "WALL-E" and "The Good Dinosaur." The comparisons showed an average opening gross of $65.4 million and the films leaving theaters with an average profit margin of 43.0%. The worst performing title in the group, "The Good Dinosaur," opened to $39.2 million and still managed to exit with a decent profit margin of 13.8%.

The title could outperform on critical reception as well as it was running an enviable 94% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 8:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 22. Other acclaimed Disney animations that opened over the Thanksgiving holiday managed sturdy returns, with "Moana" opening to $82 million and "Frozen" hitting a Thanksgiving five-day opening record at $93.6 million.

"Justice League," meanwhile, will likely still wind its way to profits for Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. over the weekend, though its $93.8 million opening well underperformed forecasts that went as high as $125 million. That contributed to an underperforming October, which closed off by 8.6%, according to Kagan research.

Finally, "Roman J. Israel, Esq." — Denzel Washington's debut film — will provide some decidedly mature counterprogramming as it follows an idealistic defense attorney through the underbelly of Los Angeles. Boxoffice.com expects it to collect just $4 million against a $22 million budget.

The closest comparison in a list compiled by Kagan seems to be academy award winner "Fences," also starring Denzel Washington. That film managed an $11.6 million opening but still exited in the red by 12.1%. The new release was running at a barely "fresh" 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 8:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 22, well below the 93% "Certified Fresh" rating "Fences" has earned.

SNL Image