On a weekend in which much of the nation was shivering through bitter winter weather, it seems somehow right that “Frozen” was the No. 1 movie at the box office.
The animated musical blasted past snowstorms and the new horror film “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” to take in $20.7 million and knock “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” out of the top spot it had held for the past three weekends.
Disney’s 3D family film is still going strong in its sixth week of wide release and has rung up nearly $300 million domestically since just before Thanksgiving and more than $600 million worldwide. It’s the second-highest grossing Disney Animation release of all-time, behind only “The Lion King.”
Paramount’s R-rated “The Marked Ones,” a Hispanic-targeting spin-off from the low-budget, high-return “Paranormal Activity” franchise, finished second with $18.2 million. That’s in line with projections for the Blumhouse/Solana Films/Room 101, Inc. film, which was produced by horror guru Jason Blum and franchise creator Oren Peli for $5 million.
Blockbuster “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which has been No. 1 every weekend since it opened on Dec. 13, finished third with $16.2 million. The Warner Bros.-MGM production is up to nearly $230 million domestically, and is on its way to $700 million globally.
While most theaters remained open, there’s no doubt the bitter cold in the Midwest and snowstorms on the East Coast depressed the grosses, though the overall box office was roughly on par with last year, when another horror film, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” won the weekend with $21.7 million.
Director Martin Scorsese’s R-rated black comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was fourth with $13.5 million. That’s only a 28 percent drop from its first weekend for “Wolf,” and encouraging news for distributor Paramount. The film’s explicit portrayal of the sex-and-drugs-fueled 1980s stock market boom has divided moviegoers, and the “C” CiinemaScore that it received after its opening made its long-term playability a question mark. It’s up to $63 million domestically since opening on Christmas Day.
Another awards hopeful, Sony’s “American Hustle,” held well and wasn’t far behind with $13.2 million. That’s just a 29 percent drop from last week, and ups the domestic total for David O. Russell’s quirky con man comedy to $88.7 million after four weeks.
The Will Ferrell comedy sequel “Anchorman 2” was sixth, with a $11.1 million three-day total that raised its domestic total to $109 million for Paramount. And Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” the Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson drama about the making of “Mary Poppins,” was next with $9 million. It’s at $59 million domestically after a month in wide release.
“The Marked Ones,” which was in first place after Friday, applies the series’ trademark shaky camera technique to a story of Mexican mysticism featuring a predominantly Latino cast.
It was in 2,867 theaters, fewer than “Frozen” (3,318) and “The Hobbit” (3,730), and drew a “C-” CinemaScore from first night audiences, which were 68 percent under 25 and evenly split between men and women. That’s not unusual, since horror fans are typically tough graders, but it makes a lengthy run less likely.
It was a strong weekend for Paramount, which had three of the t0p six films, and distribution chief Don Harris was pleased with the showing of “The Marked Ones.”
“This was a little above what we projected, so if you figure the East Coast weather cost us a million or two, this is a good result,” he told TheWrap. “Hopefully, some of the people that the weather kept away will come back next weekend.”
“The Marked Ones” also opened in 24 foreign markets and took in $16.2 million.
No one will complain about a first weekend that more than triples the production budget, but some analysts had expected more from “The Marked Ones,” and its debut suggests the five-year-old “Paranormal Activity” brand may be losing steam. Last year’s “Paranormal Activity 4” was the lowest-grossing in the series; Paramount will release the fifth film in that series just before Halloween this year.
Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” took in $7.4 million in its seventh weekend, and early this week will cross the $409 million mark domestically, putting it ahead of ‘Iron Man 3” as the highest-grossing film released in 2013.
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).