‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen’ to top Thanksgiving weekend

It may not thaw the hold that “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has on the box office, but Walt Disney Pictures will be turning up the heat with “Frozen,” its new 3-D computer-animated musical.

Entering the Thanksgiving holiday and its second weekend in release, Lionsgate’s post-apocalyptic action movie “Catching Fire” is likely to post the biggest domestic gross, with ticket sales of around $85 million from Wednesday through Sunday. The film, starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Francis Lawrence, took in more than $158 million last weekend for the best November opening ever.

“Frozen,” loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” is expected to make $70 million over five days in its first weekend in wide release, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That would beat the five-day gross of Disney’s 2010 animated release “Tangled,” which drew $68.7 million.


Disney introduced “Frozen” in a single location last weekend, the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, and generated more than $243,000. The movie follows an exuberant young woman, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), as she tries to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose magic powers have trapped their Nordic kingdom in an eternal winter.

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It has received generally favorable reviews with critics, scoring an 87% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while admiring its contemporary sensibilities and its strong female lead. In fact, “Catching Fire” and “Frozen” are noteworthy for their female-driven narratives.

“Frozen” was written by Jennifer Lee, who also directed it with Chris Buck. For the musical numbers, Disney brought on Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the Tony-winning productions “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon,” and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

The fire-and-ice battle at the top of the box office comes as a pack of other films are opening or expanding.

New in theaters on Wednesday will be Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity,” the Kasi Lemmons-directed musical adapted from the play by Langston Hughes. With a cast including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson, the African American-targeted film will likely make around $10 million on a budget of $17.5 million.

The new Jason Statham action thriller “Homefront” from Open Road Films, about a former federal agent who moves his family to a small town and faces off with a local drug lord, will likely have a performance similar to “Black Nativity.”

The Fox family drama “The Book Thief,” which cost $19 million, is expanding for the holiday weekend, and is expected to take in $5 million after grossing $1.37 million in limited release as of Monday.

Spike Lee’s “Oldboy,” a remake of the 2003 Korean movie about a man held captive for 20 years, will be shown in about 580 theaters, and is likely to generate less than $3 million in ticket sales for FilmDistrict.

The Weinstein Co.'s “Philomena” is expanding to 753 theaters for a possible $3 million to $5 million gross. In addition, TWC’s “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba as the South African political icon Nelson Mandela, will open in four locations.


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