This year’s Thanksgiving weekend is serving up a battle of the elements, as Frozen goes head-to-head with reigning champion, Catching Fire. (Which reminds us of these classic antagonists.) The Disney animated musical and latest princess movie opens wide in 3,742 theatres today. The film’s tracking strong on Rotten Tomatoes at 88% fresh, and boasts a megawatt cast of Broadway stars, including Wicked’s Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, as well as Kristen Bell as spunky and motormouthed protagonist Anna. Already, Frozen is out-selling 2010’s Tangled in advance ticket sales. Expectations, as they generally are for Disney family fare, are high, with pundits seeing receipts in the $70 million range.
Odds are, however, Catching Fire will continue to light up the box office. The successful Hunger Games sequel and Lionsgate’s early Christmas present (to themselves) had earned $170 million domestically as of Monday. It’ll likely hold strong through the weekend. Where previous November blockbuster Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II fell 69% over the holiday weekend, Catching Fire’s inevitable sophomore dip shouldn’t be more than 50, 55%.
Also hoping to wrangle a large slice of the holiday b.o. pie – or what’s left of it, anyway – Black Nativity, starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, and Angela Bassett; Homefront, with Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth; and Oldboy, Spike Lee’s Korean cult-movie remake starring Josh Brolin, are all bowing today. Nativity, targeted toward an African American audience and opening just as the Christmas season begins in earnest, should perform the best of the bunch with around $10 million. Neither Homefront nor Oldboy have garnered particularly favorable reviews, but they can both count on built-in audiences (Statham fans, original Oldboy fanboys) to show up, regardless of a grousing peanut gallery. With Homefront opening in 2,572 theatres, it’s expected to gross in the high single digits. At just 583 locations, Oldboy will likely reap around $3 million.
There aren’t any specialty releases opening today, but Philomena and The Book Thief will both expand. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan’s odd-couple drama will broaden its audience base as it goes from screening in four to 835 theatres. Thief will open in 1,234 locations across the country and, most likely, gross between $5 and $9 million.