‘Paranormal Activity’ Opens at No. 1, but ‘Frozen’ Poised to Win Chilled Weekend Box Office

'Paranormal Activity' Opens at No. 1, but 'Frozen' Poised to Win Chilled Weekend Box Office

Despite storms, Disney animated tale is on $23M pace and should end three-week reign of “The Hobbit”

The horror movie “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” opened at No. 1 Friday, taking in $8.7 million despite winter storms and extreme cold throughout much of the Midwest and East.

That puts Paramount’s low-budget chiller, the only wide opener, on course for a first weekend in the $20 million range. “Frozen” was second with $6.7 million Friday, but Disney’s animated kids film appears to have the inside track to capture the weekend and knock off “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which has ruled the box office for three weeks running, and ran third Friday with $5.1 million.

Cold or no, families are a better bet to turn out on Saturday and Sunday than horror fans, who typically show up in force on opening night, and “Frozen” is projected to finish at around $23 million over the three days. The Disney Animation 3D tale, in its sixth week, has a shot at hitting $300 million domestically this weekend and is over $550 million worldwide.

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In areas hardest hit by the storms, including parts of New York and Massachusetts, residents were warned to stay off the roads and inside. But most theaters remained open, and while grosses had to have been hurt in those regions, the overall box office was running about even with last year, when “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” won the weekend with $21.7 million.

Horror fans tend to give low CinemaScores and first-night audiences gave “The Marked Ones” just a “C,” normally an indicator of a short shelf life. Still, the R-rated scream-fest has already exceeded its $5 million production budget at the box office.

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“The Marked Ones” is the fifth film to carry the “Paranormal” banner has been positioned as a spin-off, not a sequel. Christopher Landon directed the Blumhouse/Solana Films/Room 101, Inc. production, which was produced by horror guru Jason Blum and franchise creator Oren Peli. The film applies the standard shaky camera technique to a story of Mexican mysticism featuring a predominantly Latino cast.

The Friday number was swelled by $1.2 million from late Thursday shows.

“The Desolation of Smaug” is on pace for a three-day total of around $15 million. The second film in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy has already brought in $218 million domestically and is near $660 million worldwide for Warner Bros. and MGM.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” was fourth with $4.3 million Friday, and director Martin Scorsese’s R-rated black comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio is looking at a second weekend in the $14 million range for Paramount.

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It beat out Sony’s “American Hustle,” which did $4.1 million Friday and is looking at $13 million for the three days, and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The Will Farrell comedy sequel is on pace for an $11 million third weekend after bringing in $3.9 million Friday.

Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” took in $2.4 million Friday and is on course for a $7.8 million seventh weekend. The Jennifer Lawrence sequel just crossed two milestones, topping $400 million both domestically and overseas. Its global total is at $810 million, well past the $691 million the first “Hunger Games” made over its entire run.

“Catching Fire” hit $400 million domestically in 42 days, while the first “Hunger Games” took 80 days. It’s the fifth-fastest movie to hit that mark ever, behind only “The Avengers” (14 days), “The Dark Knight” (18 days), “Avatar” (23 days) and “The Dark Knight Rises” (29 days).