The animated adventure Moana opened as big as Dwayne Johnson's biceps over Thanksgiving for Walt Disney Animation Studios, taking $81.1 million for the five-day holiday.
But Moana and its South Pacific setting couldn't catch Disney's snow-filled 2013 animated smash Frozen, which made $93.6 million to score the studio's biggest Thanksgiving weekend ever. Moana directors Ron Clements and John Musker insisted they were thrilled with the early results when they spoke to USA TODAY Wednesday, and at peace with the prospect of losing to Frozen.
"If our opening weekend doesn't match Frozen's equivalent weekend, I don't think we're going to be mourning here," said Musker.
"We won't cry," added Clements.
There's only big reasons to celebrate Moana's success, according to Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations.
"Moana's effort is still amazing. It's not a big deal losing out to Frozen, which was such a huge hit, it captured a nation," said Bock. He predicts that Frozen, which ended up making $1.3 billion in worldwide box office, will outearn Moana in the long haul.
There were moments over the Thanksgiving weekend where it appeared that Moana could catch Frozen. Johnson, who voices the demigod Maui in Moana, made it clear that he was good either way. He tweeted to one fan that "the creators of #Frozen are also the creators of #Moana. #KeepItInTheFamily."
Johnson tweeted Sunday that he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" for the "#2 all time Thanksgiving opening for an animated film. Frozen #1."
Clements and Musker directed 1989's Disney classic The Little Mermaid and understand the cycle of major hits.
"There was the success of Mermaid and then The Lion King trumped that in 1994. And for 20 years, nothing was bigger than The Lion King (until Frozen)," said Musker.
Clements was positive that repeat viewings would continue to push Moana to new heights.
"Just as a good song bears repeating, so does a musical, that's one of the special things about it," said Clements.
The two already celebrated their success, receiving a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne while promoting Moana in Spain, sent by The Incredibles director Brad Bird.
"We just had his champagne and we raised a glass to Brad and the movie," said Musker.