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'Frozen' takes weekend box office

 

Ben Livesey
(c) 2014, Bloomberg News.
"Frozen," Walt Disney's animated movie about two princesses in an icy world, returned to the top spot in ticket sales in its seventh weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

"Frozen" generated $20.7 million for the weekend, toppling "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," which had held the lead for three weeks, researcher Rentrak said in an emailed statement on Sunday. "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," the horror sequel from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, had $18.2 million second place in its debut.

With this week's haul, "Frozen" has taken in $297.8 million in domestic theaters, second to only Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me 2" for an animated movie released in 2013. The film benefited from favorable reviews and a holiday release schedule light on family-friendly competition.

"People are getting from the movie exactly what they wanted," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. "It's very impressive."

"Frozen," which last led the box office on the weekend ended Dec. 8, was made for $150 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It was projected to take in $20 million this past weekend, according to BoxOffice.com.

The film is the biggest hit for Disney's namesake animation division since "The Lion King" in 1994, highlighting a resurgence at the studio, which is churning out hits again after the success of "Tangled" in 2010 and "Wreck-It Ralph" in 2012.

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," the fifth installment in the low-cost horror series, was the only debut in wide release this weekend. Like its predecessors, the movie eschews gore and special effects for suspense.

The new film introduces new characters by shifting to a group of Latino teenagers in an apartment complex. When a reclusive woman in the complex dies, the teenagers discover a sinister plot.

The film garnered a 45 percent positive rating by RottenTomatoes.com, a review aggregator.

Low-cost horror has been an effective strategy for Paramount and for Hollywood. The first four films in the "Paranormal Activity" franchise cost about $13 million total and generated $720.7 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

The new movie was projected to take in $13 million for Paramount, according to BoxOffice.com.

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