WARMING UP Frozen is delightfully entertaining in the way that only Disney moves can be.
Credit: Disney

The first weekend in December is a notoriously weak one at the box office, and, true to form, most movies faced harsh declines this weekend after the record-breaking Thanksgiving frame. But Disney’s animated musical Frozen managed to score a not-so-severe 53 percent fall to $31.6 million this weekend, which sent it past Catching Fire and straight into the No. 1 spot on the chart.

Frozen has earned $134.3 million after 12 days in wide release, 39 percent more than 2010’s Tangled, which had earned $96.6 million at the same point in its run. The film will match its $150 million budget by this time next week, and if it maintains its current pace (which seems likely given its “A+” CinemaScore), Frozen could be headed for a finish of about $280 million. The film’s box office success is sending its soundtrack into the upper echelons of the music charts. The soundtrack debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 last week, and it’s risen all the way to No. 4 on the iTunes chart as well.

In second place, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fell 64 percent to $27 million, giving the blockbuster a $336.7 million domestic total after just 17 days. Catching Fire is still playing about $34 million ahead of The Hunger Games at the equivalent point in its run, but as evidenced by this weekend’s drop, it’s falling faster than that film, too. Catching Fire appears likely to finish with just about $400-410 million, matching The Hunger Games‘ $408 million total. Worldwide, though, Catching Fire will be much, much bigger. It’s already earned $673 million, and it will take just a few days for the film to blitz past The Hunger Games‘ $691 million global haul.

Christian Bale’s latest drama, Out of the Furnace, didn’t connect with moviegoers on its opening weekend. The bleak revenge movie, which also stars Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, and Zoë Saldana, pulled in a terrible $5.3 million from 2,021 theaters, yielding an anemic $2,523 location average. Even worse, audiences gave the film a rough “C+” CinemaScore, which will limit appeal in the weeks to come — especially given the upcoming release of Bale’s other, more anticipated release, American Hustle.

Two Disney films rounded out the Top 5 — Thor: The Dark World and Delivery Man. Thor grossed $4.7 million, enough for a $193.6 million total (and $610 million worldwide). Delivery Man earned $3.8 million, and the Vince Vaughn comedy has now grossed $24.8 million against a $26 million budget.

1. Frozen – $31.6 million

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – $27.0 million

3. Out of the Furnace – $5.3 million

4. Thor: The Dark World – $4.7 million

5. Delivery Man – $3.8 million

In milestone news, Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa passed the $100 million mark after pulling in $855,000 in its seventh weekend. Johnny Knoxville’s prank film has now out-earned big budget spectacles like Elysium, White House Down, The Lone Ranger, and Jack the Giant Slayer, and, unlike those films, Bad Grandpa cost only $15 million to produce.

Further down the chart, the Coen Bros.’ folky Oscar contender, Inside Llewyn Davis, made a huge splash in limited release. The rootsy tale strummed up $402,000 from just four theaters, which resulted in a $100,500 per theater average — the second best of the entire year after Blue Jasmine, which managed a $102,011 average from six theaters in July. CBS Films will begin expanding Inside Llewyn Davis in two weeks.

Also notable: In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, the Idris Elba-starring biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom fell only 8 percent in its second weekend to $77,000 from four theaters. For reference, the films in the Top 20 fell by an average of 52.4 percent this weekend.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 139 minutes
  • Justin Chadwick