Frozen Sizzles While Paranormal Activity Sequel Mediocre at Chilly Box Office Weekend

Frozen Sizzles While Paranormal Activity Sequel Mediocre at Chilly Box Office WeekendAfter discovering a second wind during the Christmas holiday week, Disney’s animated blockbuster Frozen refused to let go of the top spot at the North American box office this past weekend. The girl power feature withstood a deep freeze engulfing the country as well as the arrival of Paramount’s horror spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which bowed to mediocre numbers. Overall, the box office was up approximately six percent over last year during the same first weekend of the new year.

Usually by the time a film reaches the seven-week mark these days, it’s a distant memory. But when you’re Frozen, you apparently climb back up to the top of the charts. The 3D-animated feature lost a mere 25% of its audience to earn an estimated $20.7 million on 3,318 screens. To date, the movie has earned a spectacular $297.8 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2013. With no direct competition on the horizon, Frozen should continue to keep bringing in the crowds throughout the upcoming winter weeks which should help it surge past at least the $350 million mark. Overseas the movie earned $52 million this weekend to bring its global haul to $342 million.

For a while it appeared that the Paranormal Activity franchise had run its course. While the films remained hugely profitable for Paramount Pictures thanks to their micro budgets (the highest to date has been $5 million) and even cheaper viral marketing campaigns, the grosses on the previous chapter, Paranormal Activity 4, were off a steep 50% from the previous entry. This may have been the reason why the studio and series producers opted for a bit of a course change with the new spinoff feature, Paranormal Activity: the Marked Ones.

While the Marked Ones production tag remained minimal (reported to be $5 million), the release date was moved to the first weekend of January, which has proven to be popular with horror films in recent years. It is also the first of the series to be aimed largely at the Hispanic market, which tends to be largely ignored by Hollywood. Did the changes work? Well, yes and no. The film did bring in a decent-enough $18.2 million on 2,867 screens this weekend (it may have hit the low 20s had the weather cooperated), but that opening gross is still roughly 35% lower than the $29 million brought in by Paranormal Activity 4. The movie debuted in a few overseas markets this weekend as well, among them Mexico and the UK, where it made $16.2 million.

Entering into its fourth weekend in third place was Warner’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with an estimated $16.3 million from 3,730 theaters. Off 44% from last weekend, the Middle Earth sequel has earned $230 million domestically after one month and is looking to wind down its run near the $260 million mark, roughly 15% below An Unexpected Journey’s $303 million earned in 2012. Overseas, the movie has earned a big $527 million thus far to bring its overall total to a huge $756.6 million. With China and Japan yet to open, Smaug may be able to close in on $900 million for a final global haul.

Fourth place went to Paramount’s Oscar hopeful The Wolf of Wall Street with an estimated $13.4 million from 2,557 theaters. After two weeks, the controversial Martin Scorsese production has earned a solid $63.2 million and is heading to a final domestic total between $95-100 million. The slim 27% decrease from its first weekend is a sign that word-of-mouth has been positive among ticket buyers.

Landing in fifth place this weekend was Sony’s American Hustle. Like Wolf, the David O. Russell comedy has been sustained by strong word-of-mouth from adult ticket buyers. With the Oscars around the corner, Hustle should continue to see a steady stream of multiplex traffic (ditto for Wolf). This should help Hustle reach a final haul near the $130 million mark.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

6. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Paramount) $11.1 million (-43%); $109.1 million

7. Saving Mr. Banks (Disney) $9 million (-32%); $59.3 million

8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Fox) $8.2 million (-36%); $45.6 million

9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) $7.4 million (-26%); $407.4 million

Catching Fire will surpass the 2012 original’s $408 million haul in the next couple of days and will surpass Iron Man 3 to become the highest grossing domestic film of 2013 within the next week.

10. Grudge Match (Warner) $5.4 million (-23%); $24.9 million

Next weekend, The Legend of Hercules arrives on the scene along with the nationwide expansion of Warner’s Her and Universal’s military drama Lone Survivor, with the latter having the best shot of knocking Frozen out of first.

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