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'Frozen' tops 'Fire' in weekend box office

 

Ben Livesey and Sarika Gangar
(c) 2013, Bloomberg News


"Frozen," the animated film from Walt Disney, placed first in U.S. and Canadian theaters, collecting $31.6 million in weekend ticket sales and toppling "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" after two weeks as No. 1.

"Frozen," about two estranged princesses in an icy world, moved up to the top spot in its second weekend of wide release after placing second last week. "Catching Fire," from Lions Gate, collected $27 million, Rentrak said Sunday in an emailed statement.

The Disney feature, which opened in wide release on Thanksgiving weekend, marks another success for the company's animation studios, which won over holiday film fans in recent years with "Tangled" in 2010 and "Wreck-It Ralph" in 2012. The picture, while placing second to "Catching Fire" last weekend, beat the previous record for the five-day holiday set by "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2001.

"Frozen" has taken in $190.2 million globally since its Nov. 22 debut in one theater, according to Rentrak. Sales of the film, along with two Marvel movies, "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World," put Disney third in U.S. sales with $1.47 billion as of Dec. 1 after Time Warner's Warner Bros. and Comcast's Universal Pictures.

"'Frozen' has had great reviews and it's really the only game in town for kids," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "Disney has been synonymous with holiday movies, particularly at Thanksgiving, and 'Frozen' continues that tradition."

The film, loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Snow Queen," features sisters Anna and Elsa. The younger Anna, played by Kristen Bell, sets out to find Elsa, who accidentally plunges the fictional Scandinavian land of Arendelle into a deep freeze and retreats to an ice palace, shocked by her destructive powers. It also features the voices of Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff.

The movie was made for $150 million, the estimate of Box Office Mojo. It was projected to collect $30.5 million this weekend, according to BoxOffice.com.

"Catching Fire," the sequel to the 2012 film about teens fighting to the death, had led U.S. and Canadian theaters since Nov. 22, savoring a lack of competition for young-adult fans. It has taken in $336.7 million domestically, according to Rentrak. On Friday, Time Warner and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second of three films planned from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

"'The Hunger Games' has held up extremely well and has probably expanded the fan base," of the franchise, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. "It's a big step forward for Lions Gate."

In the latest film, Jennifer Lawrence returns as the heroine Katniss Everdeen and inadvertently becomes part of a rebellion as she makes a victory tour of the fictional world Panem. Everdeen and her co-winner, Peeta Mellark, are forced to battle in another round of games.

Worldwide, "Catching Fire" has collected $673.4 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

"Out of the Furnace," starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, the only movie opening in wide release this weekend, collected $5.3 million for Relativity Media, finishing third.

The blue-collar drama set in a depressed American steel town stars Bale as Russell Baze, an ex-con who finds his younger brother Rodney, a war veteran played by Affleck, has become a street fighter for a violent crime ring.

When Rodney disappears and law enforcement fails to follow through, Russell takes matters into his own hands. Woody Harrelson and Willem Dafoe are also featured.

The film is directed by Scott Cooper, whose credits include 2009's "Crazy Heart" with Jeff Bridges. The film got a 52 percent favorable rating on RottenTomatoes.com, which aggregates reviews. It was projected to take in $7 million, according to BoxOffice.com.

"Cooper stacks the deck fearlessly, as if thoroughly unaware of all the male melodramas, bruised brothers, broken working-class families and dying American towns that have populated screens for decades," wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times.

While the movie has similarities to "The Deer Hunter," the Oscar-winning 1978 movie, Cooper "brings an old-fashioned conviction to the material," and the actors "lift the film higher than its scripted words and actions," according to the reviewer.

Among returning films, "Thor: The Dark World," a superhero sequel from Disney's Marvel studios, took in $4.7 million, to place fourth, down from third place last weekend.

Disney's "Delivery Man," starring Vince Vaughn as an underachiever who learns he fathered hundreds of children through sperm donations years earlier, took in $3.8 million to place fifth, up from sixth last weekend.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 24 percent to $85 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Revenue for the year is up less than 1 percent to $9.98 billion.

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