November 28, 2013

THANKSGIVING WEEK BOX OFFICE: “Frozen” Doesn’t Put Out “Fire”


Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Wednesday was a great day for both THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) and the new FROZEN (Disney), setting the stage for a sensational holiday box office weekend for the pair.

Catching Fire zoomed 30% from Tuesday to $20.7M, blowing past the record for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving ($14.4M for the next-to-last Harry Potter).  It has a strong chance of topping $100M for the full 5-day holiday weekend, which would be way ahead of the current $82.4M record (for the very first Harry Potter), with $65M of it coming from the Friday-Sunday period (another record).  That should put it at $285-290M by Sunday, which would be roughly $40M ahead of the original Hunger Games after 10 days of release.

Frozen is also off to a torrid start with $15.2M on Wednesday.  That’s far above the $11.9M opening day for Tangled, and as a family movie Frozen will really take off as the holiday goes on.  It could reach $90M for the 5-day weekend, neck-and-neck with Catching Fire on Friday-Sunday, and with great word-of-mouth assured and no other animated films opening until Walking With Dinosaurs 3 weeks from now, its path to $200M+ is as smooth as an ice field.

Other holiday newcomers were way behind.  HOMEFRONT (Open Road), the latest Jason Statham action vehicle (with a script by Sylvester Stallone) took in $1.4M on Wednesday, and mignt not even get to $8M by Sunday.  The bigger-than-expected opening of The Best Man Holiday led to a fair amount of buzz about under-estimation of the black audience, but if anything, BLACK NATIVITY (Fox Searchlight) will come in below expectations, with a lousy $440K on Thursday at 1516 theatres that may only give it $3M by Sunday (a terrible $2K per-theatre average).  Even that looked good compared to Spike Lee’s OLDBOY (FilmDistrict), barely marketed by its distributor in a low 583-theatre release, which had a $215K Wednesday and will struggle to reach $1.5M at the end of the weekend (a $2500 average).

Wednesday also brought several major expansions for awards hopefuls, none of them very promising. THE BOOK THIEF (20th) widened to 1234 theatres and managed $725K for the day, with perhaps $7M for the weekend, a merely OK $5500 per-theatre average.   PHILOMENA (Weinstein) expanded to 753 theatres and had $375K on Wednesday for a $3.5M 5-day holiday and a slow $4500 average.  On a smaller scale, NEBRASKA (Paramount) grew to 102 theatres with $80K on Wednesday and perhaps $600K by Sunday, a soft $6K average.

Among holdovers, THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) is still strong with $2.3M on Wednesday and what should be a $17.5M 5-day weekend, which would put it ahead of the first Thor‘s $181M at the US box office with plenty of punch left.  For the first time, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) lost theatres due to the flood of new product in the marketplace, and it may have $2.5M for the Friday-Sunday part of the holiday, which would be down marginally from last weekend.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."