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Top Ten Box Office: ‘Frozen’ and ‘Catching Fire’ Lead Limping Pack; ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Starts Off Huge

Top Ten Box Office: 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Lead Limping Pack; 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Starts Off Huge

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

$5,300,000 in 2,101 theaters; PSA: $2,523; Cumulative: $5,327,000

Relativity, now in its fourth year, has had an ambitious, eclectic 2013 slate with nine releases (the most so far). “Out of the Furnace” may have been its riskiest, featuring a tough, gritty Rust Belt family drama starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. With a budget over $25 million (with foreign pre-sales covering a good part of that total) before high wide-release marketing costs, this won’t be a moneymaker. The placement of this release (which included Wednesday platform openings in unrealized hopes of strong reviews pushing its chances) in early December indicated a hope for awards attention, particularly in acting categories. It also allowed this to be the sole new wide-release this week to maximize its competitive chances. It did manage to be #3, but otherwise this is a big disappointment for Relativity.

This is the second film directed by Scott Cooper, whose debut “Crazy Heart” brought Jeff Bridges his Best Actor Oscar and also was set in a grittier America than featured in many awards-hopeful films. Whatever the ambition, “Out of the Furnace” won’t repeat that film’s success.

What comes next: This won’t last much beyond its second week holdovers.

4. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend: #3

$4,740,000 (-57%) in 3,074 theaters (-212); PSA: $3,074; Cumulative: $193,640,000

Some more “Man of Steel” comparisons: this gross in a much weaker playtime is the same as the similar fifth weekend of that earlier film, which placed #10. Worldwide, this is up to $610 million, with most of the world already played (this grossed a bit more than $5 million foreign this weekend), but with Japan still to open and some more gross to come where this has already played, this surprisingly will ultimately overtake Warner’s Superman reboot.

What comes next: With this and “Iron Man 3,” Marvel reigns supreme in the superhero world for now and likely some time to come.

5. The Delivery Man (Buena Vista) Week 3 – Last weekend: #6

$3,775,000 (-45%) in 2,905 theaters (-131); PSA: $; Cumulative: $24,799,000

This otherwise disappointing DreamWorks performer actually held quite well this weekend, suggesting that it is getting decent word of mouth, although too late to make this a hit. It actually rose a position this week (the second of the three Disney releases in the top 5 to do so).

What comes next: With a $26 million production budget, should this light any sort of spark in foreign dates (most of these are yet to open), this might turn out to be less of a total loss.

6. Homefront (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend: #5

$3,384,000 (-51%) in 2,570 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,317; Cumulative: $15,284,000

Another film struggling to gross its budget ($22 million), this second (along with “Out of the Furnace”) drama feature blue-collar friends trying to cope in a changing America didn’t hold well after a so-so initial gross, although it avoided a catastrophic drop.

What comes next: This should squeeze a third week from most of theaters, but not reach $20 million, placing it among the lower half of Open Road’s releases.

7. The Book Thief (20th Century-Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend: #7

$2,700,000 (-44%) in 1,316 theaters (+82); PSA: $2,052; Cumulative: $12,075,000

pre-World War 2 German-set drama had a decent hold as Fox seems to have
maximized their careful release as well as possible. However, with a
$35-million production budget and prospects going forward limited by
competition ahead, this will need a much stronger international
performance to have a chance of making back its cost.

What comes next:
This looks to have minimal awards hopes (Geoffrey Rush as a supporting
actor is its only long-shot chance) so whatever it can add in
the next couple weeks will be the bulk of its future domestic haul.

8. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) Week 4 – Last weekend: #4

$2,673,000 (-67%) in 1,577 theaters (-140); PSA: $1,577; Cumulative: $67,200,000

Taking a big drop from last weekend and the biggest fall in position in the top 10, this comedy sequel will fall a bit short of the best Tyler Perry films (which have exceeded $90 million) after looking as if it was headed toward that total. But with its $17 million budget, this still is a success for Universal, even if its foreign take will be minimal.

What comes next: Adding to any normal drop next week will be the release of the new Tyler Perry film.

9. Philomena (Weinstein) Week 3 – Last weekend: #8

$2,282,000 (-38%) in 835 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,733; Cumulative: $8,255,000

A decent post-holiday hold (Saturday and projected Sunday down less than a third) show that Weinstein’s gamble to expand this quickly is bearing some fruit right when Judi Dench’s awards chances can benefit from maximum attention. This is not normally a great PSA for this number of runs, but more decent for the playtime.

What comes next: The question now is how many of these can be sustained going into the holidays, when the grosses might increase.

10. Dallas Buyers Club (Focus) Week 5  – Last weekend: #12

$1,459,000 (-42%) in 734 theaters (+38); PSA: $1,987; Cumulative: $12,411,000

Back in the top 10, this is accumulating a respectable total before likely nabbing a boost from upcoming nominations.

What comes next: This will scale down its print count during the holidays, but it should return in January if awards expectations are realized, and could see its gross total reach a considerably higher level.

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