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20 Biggest Thanksgiving Opening Weekend Movie Releases Ever

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Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally a big opening weekend for movies — especially family-friendly films — but the pandemic has thrown a wrench into studios’ movie release plans, with many postponing release dates to 2021 or canceling films altogether. The upcoming James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” was originally pushed from April to Thanksgiving weekend, but has since been postponed even further to April 2021, Vulture reported. And Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” was also set for a Thanksgiving weekend opening, but that release has been pushed to March 2021.

While there won’t be any major Thanksgiving movie openings this year, take a look back at the biggest box-office hits of Thanksgivings past. Which one do you think tops the list?

Last updated: Nov. 24, 2020

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20. ‘Rise of the Guardians’ (2012)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $32.3 million
  • Total gross revenue: $103.4 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 31.3%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,653
  • Distributor: DreamWorks

The animated action-adventure movie features the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. Although it had one of the biggest Thanksgiving weekend openings of all time, it never hit No. 1 at the box office.

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19. ‘The Haunted Mansion’ (2003)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $34 million
  • Total gross revenue: $75.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 44.9%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,122
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Eddie Murphy stars in this family-friendly fantasy film. Although it earned big bucks over Thanksgiving weekend, its earnings plummeted in the weeks following.

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18. ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ (2014)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $35.4 million
  • Total gross revenue: $83.9 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 42.3%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,764
  • Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Part of the “Madagascar” film franchise, “Penguins of Madagascar” was Benedict Cumberbatch’s first animated movie.

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17. ‘Toy Story’ (1995)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $39.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $191.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 20.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 2,457
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“Toy Story” was the first computer-animated feature film and the first film ever released from Pixar Animation Studios.

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16. ‘Knives Out’ (2019)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $41.4 million
  • Total gross revenue: $165.4 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 25%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,461
  • Distributor: Lionsgate

The star-studded dark comedy features Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer.

See: The 20 Biggest Box-Office Bombs of All Time

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15. ‘The Muppets’ (2011)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $41.5 million
  • Total gross revenue: $88.6 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 46.8%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,440
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“The Muppets” features the Academy Award-winning song “Man or Muppet.”

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14. ‘Creed’ (2015)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $42.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $109.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 38.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,404
  • Distributor: Warner Bros.

“Creed” marks the seventh film in the “Rocky” film series. The original film came out in 1976.

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13. ‘Back to the Future Part II’ (1989)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $43 million
  • Total gross revenue: $118.5 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 36.3%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 1,865
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised the roles of Marty McFly and Doc for this sci-fi comedy sequel, which follows Marty as he repeats his visit to 1955.

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12. ‘A Bug’s Life’ (1998)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $45.3 million
  • Total gross revenue: $162.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 28.1%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 2,686
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Pixar’s second film features the voices of Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere and Phyllis Diller.

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11. ‘Unbreakable’ (2000)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $46 million
  • Total gross revenue: $95 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 48.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 2,708
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson star in this sci-fi thriller, directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan.

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10. ‘Four Christmases’ (2008)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $46.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $120.1 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 38.3%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,310
  • Distributor: Warner Bros.

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play a couple in this holiday comedy, but they reportedly did not get along during filming.

Financial Flops: Critically Acclaimed Movies That Bombed at the Box Office

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9. ‘Enchanted’ (2007)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $49.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $127.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 38.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,730
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

This live action-animated hybrid film stars Amy Adams as Giselle and Patrick Dempsey as her love interest Robert Philip.

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8. ‘The Good Dinosaur’ (2015)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $55.5 million
  • Total gross revenue: $123.1 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 45%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,749
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The third Pixar film to land on this ranking, “The Good Dinosaur” features the voices of Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin and Sam Elliott.

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7. ‘Creed II’ (2018)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $56 million
  • Total gross revenue: $115.7 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 48.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,441
  • Distributor: MGM

The “Creed” sequel had an even stronger opening weekend than the original. Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stalone both reprised their roles for the second movie.

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6. ‘Tangled’ (2010)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $68.7 million
  • Total gross revenue: $200.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 34.2%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,603
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Mandy Moore voiced Rapunzel for this animated version of the classic fairytale.

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5. ‘Coco’ (2017)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $72.9 million
  • Total gross revenue: $210.5 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 34.6%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,987
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In addition to its domestic success, “Coco” broke box-office records in Mexico and also spent time as the No. 1 movie in China, The New York Times reported.

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4. ‘Toy Story 2’ (1999)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $80.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $245.9 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 32.6%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,236
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“Toy Story 2” introduced the character of Jessie — voiced by Joan Cusak — to the animated film franchise.

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3. ‘Moana’ (2016)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $82.1 million
  • Total gross revenue: $248.8 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 33%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,875
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Disney’s animated feature film has original music from “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, including the Oscar-nominated song “How Far I’ll Go.”

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2. ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ (2018)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $84.8 million
  • Total gross revenue: $201.1 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 42.2%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 4,017
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Thanksgiving 2018 was apparently a big one for moviegoing, with both “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Creed II” scoring record opening weekends that year.

This “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel was released six years after the original and features the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Gal Gadot.

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1. ‘Frozen’ (2013)

  • Thanksgiving weekend gross revenue: $93.6 million
  • Total gross revenue: $400.7 million
  • Percentage made on Thanksgiving weekend: 23.4%
  • Number of theaters it opened in: 3,742
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Disney sweeps the top six Thanksgiving opening weekend box-office records with “Frozen” taking the top spot. The animated film features Kristen Bell as Anna and Idina Menzel as Elsa, sisters who team up to reverse a curse of infinite winter.

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All box-office figures were sourced from Box Office Mojo on Nov. 18, 2020.