The weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday is usually one of the year's weakest. The top two films, Disney's "Frozen" and Lionsgate's "Catch Fire," both grossed more than any previous film for a similar weekend at $31.6 and $27 million respectively, blowing past previous record holder "Tangled" at $21.6 million. But the total for the entire Top 10 was only $85 million, down from the $101 million achieved last year by a much deeper slate of hits (five films grossed over $12 million).
2013's post-Thanksgiving weekend was as late as it can be. By a fluke in the calendar shifting weeks, the equivalent weekend last year was two weeks after Thanksgiving. This year is up by $17 million, pushing the year to date total closer to parity going into the final few weeks of 2013. Although several upcoming films, including next week's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" look promising, 2012 ended with a bang that could be difficult to outmatch.
Speaking of promising, the Coen brothers' new release "Inside Llewyn Davis" opened in four New York/Los Angeles theaters to a $400,000 for a per screen average, just below "Blue Jasmine." More on this and other specialized films in Arthouse Audit shortly.
1. Frozen (Buena Vista) Week 3 - Last weekend #2
$31,641,000 (-53%) in 3,742 theaters (unchanged); PSA (per screen average): $; Cumulative: $134,278,000
"Tangled" previously had been Disney's best Thanksgiving animated feature opening (at $48 million, compared to $67 million for "Frozen"). This fell less on its second weekend and rose to #1, establishing itself as a long-run film. "Tangled" was able to hold more than 2/3s of its theaters through Christmas (some at a matinee-only shows) with lower grosses going into the holiday on its way to a $200 million gross. This second weekend performance indicates an even brighter future for "Frozen."
What comes next: "Despicable Me 2" at $367 million is the year's biggest animated grosser, which is a bit higher than "Frozen" might reach. But "Frozen" should overtake "Monsters University" (also Disney) which topped out at $268 million.
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) Week 3 - Last weekend #1
$27,000,000 (-64%) in 4,163 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $6,486; Cumulative: $336,700,000
Still a strong gross (to put it mildly) even with a big drop, this female-driven sequel now is after 17 days the #3 film of the year, already $45 million better than "Man of Steel" (whose production budget was almost $100 million higher). Very impressive, to say the least.
What comes next: This now has a chance -- with enough theaters holding it through Christmas -- to outdistance "Iron Man 3" as the best domestic grosser of 2013 as well as to equal its series' predecessor. (It needs to reach $409 million to do so).
3. Out of the Furnace (Relativity) NEW - Cinemascore: C-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 64