It feels like the holidays. The weather has turned frigid. Holiday shopping is frantic and children are itching for an escape from school. But, we all still have at least a week to go, and with mothers specifically operating on overload this time of year, vacation is not quite here. Which is precisely why The Princess and the Frog will open to number one but it won’t be a record-breaking smash. People are just too busy. Reviews are almost unanimously positive for this successful return to form for Disney and 2-D animation so it’s a guarantee the movie will play to some really strong numbers all through the holiday season. The other wide release this frame is Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. Lately, Eastwood can do no wrong and grownups will be thrilled to have a movie to call their own. Read on for my predictions for how this frame plays out.

Two years ago Alvin and the Chipmunks opened in mid-December to an astounding $44 million — marking a high-point in box-office history for animated movies in December. It’s unlikely Princess and the Frog will nab such a large debut considering the word “Princess” is guaranteed to turn off half the kid movie-going population and the film is opening a little too early to win those families on opening weekend. (It would have made more sense to open next weekend, but with Avatar blacking out anything else in its path, Disney really had no other choice.) Princess did have an auspicious beginning, earning — in two weeks time — close to $1 million with specially priced tickets in two theaters. The movie — Disney’s valiant return to form for 2-D animation — is still likely to do some solid business through the season. It will have to fight with those chipmunks, though, come Christmas Day.

2. The Blind Side: $12 million

It has already made over $130 million in three weeks of release, proving that Sandra Bullock is almost as big of a box office draw as Meryl Streep. The drama’s fourth weekend in theaters should be solid as well. Expect a 40% drop for a film that’s likely to hang in there all the way through the holidays.

3. Invictus: $10 million

The last few Clint Eastwood movies (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby) have opened limited in December and have gone on to very successful runs. This time around he’s got Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman in starring roles so it’s not surprising that Warner Bros is willing to open nationwide with this the film, based on Nelson Mandela’s attempt to turn its all-white rugby team into World Cup champions. How it performs will be directly in line to how it’s reviewed, and so far it’s looking pretty good. The opening may be modest but this film should have staying power.

The second installment of the Twilight series has made close to $260 million in three weeks of release. That’s crazy money for a $50 million melodrama about werewolves and vampires. It’s been falling fast as of late, over 60% each weekend. And with a close to $600 million worldwide box office, it’s got to peter out soon. It’s still quite a phenomenon that many will try to replicate but most will fail.

5. Brothers: $5 million

This family/war drama has earned another $2 million during the week. Not bad for a subject deemed too-tough-to-watch over the last year. It does help that Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, and Tobey Maguire are starring. Perhaps the solid weekdays will portend a healthy second weekend for the Jim Sheridan-directed drama.

Opening in limited release: Paramount launches Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones in three theaters. The Weinstein Co. will bow Tom Ford’s much buzzed about film A Single Man in nine theaters.

Photo Credit: Disney