Fire or ice? That’s the question that millions of moviegoers will answer this weekend at the box office as Disney’s animated musical Frozen goes head-to-head with record-breaking behemoth The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Will the family film be able to snuff out the blockbuster? Probably not. But it’s still set to do major business over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period. Here’s how things may shake out over the five-day frame:
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – $91 million
Lionsgate’s $130 million sequel has lit up the box office since its arrival last Friday, and it’s poised to blitz past the $200 million mark on Wednesday, its sixth day of release. The film may add about $30 million to its total over Wednesday and Thursday, then another $61 million or so (a drop of about 60 percent) over the weekend. That would give it $91 million more and push its gross to about $278 million after only 10 days.
2. Frozen – $64 million
Disney has experience opening successful princess movies over Thanksgiving weekend. The studio released Enchanted on this weekend in 2007, and the film brought in $49 million over its first five days. It also opened the Rapnuzel tale Tangled over this weekend in 2010, which grossed $68.7 million from Wednesday to Sunday, and that film is a great comparison for Frozen.
As the studio did with Tangled, Disney has downplayed the princess-y aspects of Frozen, which cost $150 million to produce, as much as possible. Instead of showcasing the sister protagonists (voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel), marketing has focused on Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) instead in order to draw boys into the theater. Granted, Disney-philes know that Frozen is a riff on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and that it features lush musical numbers sung by belty stars, which will no doubt bring in fans of Disney’s classic animations.
Reviews for the film are very strong, and families are starved for options, especially given the collective “meh” that greeted fellow animated feature Free Birds recently. Thus, Frozen appears poised for a debut of about $64 million – $46 million of which should come in over the traditional weekend dates.
3. Thor: The Dark World – $15 million
The superhero sequel isn’t getting a boost as big as Iron Man 3’s, but it’s still performing solidly (and doing gangbusters biz overseas), and it will surpass the original Thor’s $181 million total this weekend. The Dark World should pull in about $12 million over the holiday weekend, and about $15 million for the extended frame, giving it $188 million total.
4. Black Nativity – $14 million
Kasi Lemmons’ take on Langston Hughes’ popular stage musical isn’t quite the joyous, warm-n-fuzzy Christmas tale that box office dreams are made of, but its title recognition and A-list talent – Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker – may make it a destination this weekend. Of course, The Best Man Holiday is providing direct competition for Black Nativity, which Open Road Films is opening in 1,516 locations and targeting to African-American moviegoers. But on a crowded Thanksgiving weekend, there’s more than enough pumpkin pie to go around. Against a budget of about $17.5 million, Black Nativity may find $14 million in five days.
5. The Best Man Holiday – $12.5 million
The comedy had a slightly larger than expected drop last weekend, and with the arrival of Black Nativity, its descent will probably continue. Still, The Best Man Holiday has great word-of-mouth, and now that families are together for the holiday, they may choose the feel-good pic as a destination. A five-day gross in the $12.5 million range would give the Universal hit a strong $65 million total.
Open Road Films’ $22 million Jason Statham vehicle Homefront is expected to open outside the top five with about $10 million in its first five days. Meanwhile, Fox’s The Book Thief, which is getting a nationwide expansion into 1,234 theaters, may only steal about $4.5 million through Sunday given its solid but unspectacular limited run.
Check back to EW throughout the weekend to see how each film fares, and have a happy, safe Thanksgiving!