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‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen’ rule Thanksgiving weekend box office

December 2nd, 2013 9:10 am by By Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times (MCT)

‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen’ rule Thanksgiving weekend box office

This image released by Lionsgate shows Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, from left, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)

LOS ANGELES — The holiday box office exploded this past weekend as both “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen” topped records held by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the biggest three- and five-day Thanksgiving weekend grosses.

Generating a studio-estimated $66.7 million three-day gross and a $93 million five-day gross, Disney’s “Frozen” also marked the biggest Thanksgiving-weekend opening ever, beating three-day and five-day records set in 1999 by “Toy Story 2.” The film opened Wednesday evening in time for the holiday.

Meanwhile, in its second week in wide release, Lionsgate’s “Catching Fire” — a dystopian thriller about children pitted against one another in a fight to the death — continued its box-office rampage, pulling in domestically a studio-estimated $74.5 million over three days and $110.2 million over five days, and a jaw-dropping worldwide gross of $573 million.

The three- and five-day domestic figures broke records of $57.5 million and $82.4 million, respectively, set in 2001 by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” giving “Catching Fire” the highest-grossing Thanksgiving weekend of all time, on top of its all-time record November opening.

Both “Catching Fire” and “Frozen” are audience and critical darlings. The former drew an A rating, according to CinemaScore, a research firm that polls moviegoers, and the latter received a coveted A-plus rating.

The A-plus is a distinction held by a select few films that have gone on to become hits, including “The King’s Speech,” “Titanic” and most recently Universal Pictures’ “The Best Man Holiday.” The latter film, a Malcolm D. Lee-directed romantic comedy, held tight at the box office over the weekend, finishing in fourth place with $8.5 million, below Disney’s other big box-office winner “Thor: The Dark World,” which pulled in $11.1 million.

Walt Disney Studios, which has been on a tear this year with mega-hits such as “Thor,” “Iron Man 3,” “Planes” and now “Frozen,” said Sunday it had reached the $4 billion mark at the global box office for the first time in its history.

Disney is thriving thanks in large part to its reaching out to all types of audiences. That an action film such as “Thor” can thrive alongside an animated adventure such as “Frozen” is testament to what Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president of theatrical distribution, calls the studio’s “tent-pole strategy.”

“It’s a nice portfolio of branded offerings,” Hollis said Sunday. “And it’s driving all sorts of people to movie theaters.”

As expected, “Frozen” drove mostly families to the big screen, with 81 percent of its audience identifying as such. But it also performed well in all age brackets, with 42 percent of its audience at least 26 years old. Children ages 2 to 11 accounted for 38 percent of the audience.

“Frozen” is an animated 3-D musical directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and featuring the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Idina Menzel. It follows a young girl in an epic journey to find her lost sister in a kingdom that is trapped in eternal winter.

“For a company built on animation, to have an animated film be the biggest Thanksgiving opening ever is particularly special,” said Hollis. The film was made by Disney Animation Studios.

Elsewhere at the box office, the Open Road Films’ thriller “Homefront,” starring Jason Statham, pulled in nearly $7 million in three days to come in at No. 5 for the weekend.

Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity,” based on the play by Langston Hughes, earned $3.9 million and placed at No. 8, just below 20th Century Fox’s “The Book Thief,” which expanded into more than 1,000 theaters this weekend and grossed $4.9 million.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Philomena” came in at No. 9, making an estimated $3.8 million. Star Judi Dench is considered a candidate for an Oscar nomination for her role in the Stephen Frears-directed film about an Irish woman in search of the child that nuns took from her 50 years earlier.


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