"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" broke the box-office record for November, defeating "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" with the sixth-biggest opening of all time. But this holiday weekend, the warriors of the Young Adult franchise face a new challenger:Disney.
"Frozen" arrives this week boasting the strength of cute characters, gorgeous (animated) snowy locales and musical numbers in the style of Mouse House mega-hits like "The Little Mermaid," "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast." Disney has worked this strategy before, unleashing sure-fire family hits like "Toy Story 2" and "Tangled" over the Thanksgiving break. Disney's PG fare typically does fantastic business, even positioned against second-weekend showings of franchise entries from the likes of "Twilight" or "Harry Potter."
"Frozen" is by far the best-reviewed of Thanksgiving's new films, boasting an 87 percent Rotten Tomatoes score on opening day. All of these facts should add up to five-day debut in the neighborhood of $65 million -- a big number, to be sure, but not enough to catch Katniss.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" should add another $80 million or so to the $170.3 million it had accumulated by Tuesday morning. "Catching Fire" has collected $316.9 million around the world and should be able to fend off "Frozen" to hold onto the top spot domestically.
The Christmas-themed "Black Nativity" probably would have stood a better chance on a different weekend. It's based on a 1961 off-Broadway musical and features a cast brimming with Academy Awards, Academy Award nominations and a handful of Grammys: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and hip-hop legend Nasir "Nas" Jones, among them. However, "The Best Man Holiday" should prove a continued draw for African American audiences, with fans of musical numbers in movies getting their fix from "Frozen."
"Black Nativity" should do slightly better than "Homefront," the latest action flick from Jason Statham. Even with James Franco as the film's villain, the poorly reviewed "Homefront" isn't likely collect more than $11 million over the holiday.
"Thor: The Dark World" and "The Best Man Holiday" should still be hanging around the top five when all of the Turkey dust settles. Vince Vaughn dud "Delivery Man" will slip even further, while holdovers like "Last Vegas" and "Free Birds" will settle for leftovers throughout the weekend.
In limited release, Spike Lee's remake of "Old Boy" plays in 500 theaters. Moving into 700 theaters this week, the drama "Philomena" is riding high on some great reviews; even more than "Frozen" or "Catching Fire." Neither "Old Boy" nor "The Book Thief," an adaptation of the international best seller, which expanded to 1,000 theaters, can make the same claim.