By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 4, 2014 at 2:10PM
Typical for early January, a new horror film marked the first new wide release of the year. And like the last two years, it started out in first place. "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" (Paramount) placed #1 for Friday, with $8,740,000 banked for opening day (including Thursday late shows). However, unlike "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Devil Inside," it appears that it won't make #1 for the weekend, as weekend matinees look poised to return Disney's "Frozen" (Buena Vista) to the #1 spot in its 7th weekend (the last film to do that was "Avatar").
With a gross of $6,750,000, "Frozen" led a group of holiday films that are turning out to be stronger than they initially appeared. In total they are outgrossing last year's batch. Yesterday's top 10 totaled $43 million, up over $3 million for 2013's post-New Year's weekend. Among the 10 are seven films that either have passed $100 million so far or are poised to do so, compared to only four from last year that reached that level.
These include, beyond "Frozen" (soon to pass $300 million) "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Warner Bros.), #3 for yesterday at $5,120,000, already at $218 million, and still topping more recent releases in its 4th weekend. But at #4 yesterday, Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount) is up a position from last Friday with a gross of $4,314,000 pushing its total to $54 million in 10 days, and more significantly, holding well enough to suggest that it could double its total ahead.
"American Hustle" (Sony) was #5 at $4,165,000, now just under $80,000,000 in only its 3rd wide weekend. Passing the $100 million mark yesterday was #6 "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (Paramount) with $3,900,000. #7 was "Saving Mr. Banks" (Buena Vista), playing at fewer theaters still than anything else in the top 10, grossing $2,952,000. This is at $53 million, but seems likely to have a long run and some expansion ahead as it looks forward to hoped-for Oscar attention to push its gross to a possible $100 million total. #8 "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (20th Century Fox) lagged at $2,800,000, crossing the $40 million mark in 10 days. Likely hurt by the success of other PG-13 and PG rated films this season, it will need a better hold and stronger international results to break even.
At #9, but as big a story as any film in the Top 10 is "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Lionsgate), with $2,480,000 yesterday bringing its take so far to $402,500,000, less than $7 million under "Iron Man 3," which was the biggest grossing domestic 2013 release. "Catching Fire" should pass that total by midweek (as well as the total for the first "Hunger Games").
Three other Christmas releases grossed under $2 million for the day, with all looking to fall short of $40 million ultimate totals and likely fall short of profit in varying degrees. #10 "Grudge Match" (Warner Bros.) and #12 "Walking With Dinosaurs" (20th Century Fox) look like minor setbacks for their studios, but #11 "47 Ronin" (Universal) could end up the biggest flop among the several high-budget failures that stood out in 2013.
Two films playing just in New York/Los Angeles in advance of their wide breaks last weekend had good holds. "Lone Survivor" (Universal) in 2 theaters grossed $23,000, down just 14% from its opening day last week. "August: Osage County" (Weinstein) in 5 (sticking to where it played last week, despite early week plans to open two other markets) was down 28% at $40,600, decent if not spectacular in advance of the real test of its appeal ahead.