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Thanks to a pair of shrewd female heroines, Hollywood enjoyed its most prosperous Thanksgiving on record as holdover The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and new animated tentpole Frozen turned in ferocious performances, each earning more than any previous holiday title.
Any celebration, however, was muted by the death of actor Paul Walker in a fiery crash Saturday.
Catching Fire grossed $110.2 million from 4,163 theaters over the five-day holiday (Wednesday-Sunday), becoming the top Thanksgiving title of all time after sailing past the $82.4 million earned by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. For the weekend itself, the Lionsgate sequel took in $74.5 million — the fourth best second weekend in history after The Avengers ($103.1 million), Avatar ($75.6 million) and The Dark Knight ($75.2 million).
Catching Fire has now earned $296.5 million domestically. Overseas the title, costing $130 million to produce, took in another $92.5 million for an international total of $276.5 million and a massive global haul of $573 million.
Disney’s Frozen, opening Wednesday, scored the top Thanksgiving debut of all time with a five-day gross of $93 million, eclipsing the $80.1 million five-day launch of Pixar’s Toy Story 2 in 1999. It also scored the top opening for a Disney Animation Studios title, besting the $68.7 million grossed by Tangled over Thanksgiving in 2010. For the three-day weekend, Frozen took in $74.5 million.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen‘s classic fairy tale The Snow Queen, Frozen — earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore — tells the story of a fearless princess (Kristen Bell) who sets off on an epic journey to find her sister, whose icy powers have caused an eternal winter. Last weekend, the 3D pic, costing $150 million to make, did big business when it played exclusively at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
Kids between the ages of 2 and 11 made up the largest percentage of the audience (38 percent), while families overall made up 81 percent. The movie skewed female, although males made up a healthy 43 percent of ticket buyers, according to Disney.
Overseas, Frozen earned $16.7 million as it began rolling out in a handful of markets for a worldwide debut of $109.7 million.
Led in large part by Frozen and Catching Fire, domestic box office revenue for the five-day holiday clocked in at roughly $294 million, up nearly 3 percent from last year’s record $291 million.
After Frozen, the news was mixed for the other new holiday films.
Action-thriller Homefront, starring Jason Statham, placed No. 6 with a five-day debut of $9.8 million and a three-day gross of $7 million. Homefront, receiving a B CinemaScore, features Statham as a widowed ex-DEA agent who moves to a small town with his daughter, only to have the decision blow up in his face. James Franco and Winona Ryder also star.
Spike Lee‘s Oldboy, playing in 583 theaters Wednesday, bombed in its North American launch, earning roughly $1.2 million for the five days. From a script by Mark Protosevich, the remake of the cult South Korean film stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley. Oldboy marks the final release from Peter Schlessel‘s FilmDistrict before Schlessel officially takes over as CEO of Focus Features on Jan. 1.
Among adult-skewing fare, 20th Century Fox’s The Book Thief, Fox Searchlight’s African-American musical Black Nativity and The Weinstein Co.’s Philomena have all landed on the top 10 chart.
The Book Thief, opening in select cities earlier this month in a bid to build word of mouth and expanding into a total of 1,234 theaters on Wednesday, placed No. 7 with a five-day gross of $6.4 million. Based on the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak about a young girl living with her foster parents in Nazi Germany, the film stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Ben Schnetzer. To date, it has earned $7.9 million.
Black Nativity, targeting faith-based consumers and earning an A- CinemaScore, came in No. 8 with a so-so $5 million. The pic, playing in 1,516 locations and facing tough competition from African-American comedy The Best Man Holiday, should earn $5 million through Sunday. (From Universal, Best Man Holiday came in a strong No. 4 with $11.1 million.)
Directed by Kasi Lemmons and based loosely on Langston Hughes‘ play, Black Nativity‘s ensemble cast is led by Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige.
Stephen Frears‘ critically acclaimed Philomena, now playing in a total of 853 locations, came in No. 9 with a five-day gross of $4.6 million. The awards contender, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, enjoyed the biggest jump of any film from Thursday to Friday (207 percent), as well as from Friday to Saturday (8 percent).
Among holdovers, Disney and Marvel Studios took the No. 3 slot with Thor: The Dark World. The tentpole grossed a solid $15.5 million domestically for the five-days, pushing its domestic total to $186.7 million. Internationally, it earned $12.2 million for the weekend for a foreign total of $404.4 million and a global cume of $591.1 million.
DreamWorks and Disney’s Vince Vaughn dramedy Delivery Man showed signs of life after a difficult start last weekend, coming No. 5 with five-day earnings of $9.8 million. The pic has now earned $19.5 million in North America after costing a modest $22 million to produce.
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