Next weekend there'll be one ring to rule them all. But until "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" arrives, the box office will once again belong to "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and Disney's "Frozen," hot on the heels of a record-breaking Thanksgiving weekend.
After a couple of weeks on top, "Catching Fire" could be dethroned by Disney's latest 3-D animation blockbuster. Both "Frozen" and "The Hunger Games" sequel are projected to make between $30 million to $40 million this weekend, making it a tossup for #1.
Christian Bale's gritty crime thriller "Out of the Furnace" is the only new wide release, expanding from a limited release in New York and Los Angeles. While the Oscar-winner and former Batman's star power is undeniable, "Crazy Heart" director Scott Cooper's latest drama has its work cut out for it, opening on the same weekend Brad Pitt's dark crime-thriller "Killing Them Softly" flopped last year. The $22 million "Furnace" will likely open with $8 million. "American Hustle," Bale's reunion with "The Fighter" director David O. Russell, bows December 13.
Speaking of the Oscars — the race heats up with the limited release of Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis." Justin Timberlake puts both his acting and singing chops to work in the film, which stars Oscar Isaac ("Drive") as the title character. Set in the 1961 Greenwich Village folk scene, the latest from the brotherly duo behind "No Country for Old Men" has earned rave reviews from film critics.
"Catching Fire" has made over $583 million around the world already, $306.7 million of it domestically, making it the third biggest film of the year behind "Iron Man 3" and "Despicable Me 2." Disney's "Frozen" goes into its second weekend with over $100 million in its coffers.
Both films will have to move aside for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second installment of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequel trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkein's much-beloved 1937 children's fantasy novel. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opened a year ago with $303 million, on its way to earning over $1 billion worldwide during its theatrical run. Despite that mammoth success, receipts for "An Unexpected Journey" trailed behind 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"; once adjusted for ticket price inflation, "The Hobbit" has yet to touch any of the films in the first trilogy, which began with 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
Arriving alongside the "Hobbit" sequel, "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" sees the writer, director, producer and actor back in the familiar drag of his most popular role. "Madea Goes to Jail," which made $90.5 million in 2009, remains the star's biggest film. But with the landscape of Middle Earth and Perry's comedic antics a week away, last weekend's Thanksgiving record-breakers will continue to reign unabated.