‘Frozen’ Skates Past ‘Hunger Games’ to Top Weekend Theater Sales

“Frozen,” the animated film from Walt Disney Co. (DIS), placed first in U.S. and Canadian theaters, collecting $31.6 million in weekend ticket sales and toppling “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” after two weeks as No. 1.

“Frozen,” about two estranged princesses in an icy world, moved up to the top spot in its second weekend of wide release after placing second last week. “Catching Fire,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF), collected $27 million, Rentrak Corp. (RENT) said today in an e-mailed statement.

The Disney feature, which opened in wide release on Thanksgiving weekend, marks another success for the company’s animation studios, which won over holiday film fans in recent years with “Tangled” in 2010 and “Wreck-It Ralph” in 2012. The picture, while placing second to “Catching Fire” last weekend, beat the previous record for the five-day holiday set by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in 2001.

“Frozen” has taken in $190.2 million globally since its Nov. 22 debut in one theater, according to Rentrak. Sales of the film, along with two Marvel movies, “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World,” put Disney third in U.S. sales with $1.47 billion as of Dec. 1 after Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures.

“Frozen has had great reviews and it’s really the only game in town for kids,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Disney has been synonymous with holiday movies, particularly at Thanksgiving, and ‘Frozen’ continues that tradition.”

Magical Sisters

The film, loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” features sisters Anna and Elsa. The younger Anna, played by Kristen Bell, sets out to find Elsa, who accidentally plunges the fictional Scandinavian land of Arendelle into a deep freeze and retreats to an ice palace, shocked by her destructive powers. It also features the voices Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff.

The movie was made for $150 million, the estimate of Box Office Mojo. It was projected to collect $30.5 million this weekend, according to BoxOffice.com.

“Catching Fire,” the sequel to the 2012 film about teens fighting to the death, had led U.S. and Canadian theaters since Nov. 22, savoring a lack of competition for young-adult fans. It has taken in $336.7 million domestically, according to Rentrak. On Dec. 13, Time Warner Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. release “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second of three films planned from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Bale, Affleck

“‘The Hunger Games’ has held up extremely well and has probably expanded the fan base,” of the franchise, said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher BoxOffice.com. “It’s a big step forward for Lions Gate.”

In the latest film, Jennifer Lawrence returns as the heroine Katniss Everdeen and inadvertently becomes part of a rebellion as she makes a victory tour of the fictional world Panem. Everdeen and her co-winner, Peeta Mellark, are forced to battle in another round of games.

“Out of the Furnace,” starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, the only movie opening in wide release this weekend, collected $5.3 million for Relativity Media, finishing third.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Livesey in San Franciso at blivesey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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