After weeks of successive box office flops, Disney is once again coming to movie theaters’ rescue with the release of “Frozen II,” a long-awaited sequel expected to bring 2019’s biggest opening weekend since the release of “The Lion King” back in July.
Releasing on 4,300+ screens, “Frozen II” is projected by independent trackers for a $105-115 million opening, which would make it the first animated film to open above $100 million outside of the summer. Analysts who spoke with TheWrap say that they believe an opening as high as $130 million is possible.
Expectations for this sequel are through the roof. It’s not an exaggeration to say that “Frozen” has become the Disney classic for today’s generation of kids in the way that “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” were for kids of the 90s. That has made “Frozen” into a brand nearly as valuable for Disney as Marvel or “Star Wars,” worth well beyond the $1.26 billion that the first film grossed in the winter of 2013.
But “Frozen II” is expected to have a different trajectory during its theatrical run than either the first “Frozen” or the Pixar summer films that have been surefire hits for Disney over the past few years. “Frozen” was a slow burner, opening to $93 million and earning weekend totals above $10 million until its 10th weekend. The film didn’t fall out of the top 5 on the weekend charts until mid-February and finished with a $400 million total.
“Frozen II” is unlikely to have such legs, as the release of fellow Disney blockbuster “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and other Christmas releases will likely slow down the later stages of its theatrical run. But at the same time, analysts are ruling out a $150 million-plus opening despite record presales on Atom and Fandango because they believe that “Frozen II”‘s key audience, families, will probably wait until Thanksgiving weekend to see the film.
“Animated movies in the summer can be frontloaded because there’s nothing holding families back from seeing it on opening weekend,” Boxoffice Pro analyst Shawn Robbins told TheWrap. “With a long holiday weekend coming up, the turnout from families might be a bit more spread out than usual.”
Regardless, “Frozen II” is expected to quickly rise up to join the 2019 top 10 box office list, and not a moment too soon. While Warner Bros.’ “It: Chapter Two” and “Joker” provided some strong ticket sales in September and October, the weak numbers of the last few releases have left 2019’s domestic totals to date down 6.4% from last year. If the windfall holiday season analysts and theater owners have been hoping for is going to come true, it has to start now with Anna and Elsa.
“Frozen II” is set three years after the events of the first film, as Arendelle is threatened by a new danger from far beyond. Anna, Elsa, Kristof, Olaf and Sven journey out into the unknown, and in doing so may uncover a secret connected to Anna and Elsa’s long lost parents and the origins of Elsa’s powers. Original writer-director team Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck return along with original cast members Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad. Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, and Alfred Molina are among the newcomers.
On the mid-budget side are Sony’s awards hopeful “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and STX’s Chadwick Boseman action film “21 Bridges.” “Beautiful Day” is expected to have a $17-20 million opening, with Sony projecting a $14 million opening, while “21 Bridges” is being projected for a $12-14 million opening.
Sony is hoping that “Beautiful Day” will help erase the struggles of “Charlie’s Angels,” which opened to a disappointing $8.35 million this past weekend. With “Frozen II” in theaters, turnout from female audiences for this true story about Mister Rogers will be lower than it could be for the next couple of weekends. Still, with Tom Hanks in a Oscar contending performance as a beloved TV icon, the film should endure in the minds of audiences and stick around even during a blockbuster-heavy December.
“21 Bridges” will try to draw in viewers with the Marvel pedigree of its key players. The film stars Chadwick Boseman in his first major action appearance since “Black Panther” nearly two years ago, while “Avengers: Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo are attached as producers. The film’s $33 million budget was co-financed by Huayi Brothers through their slate financing deal with STX as well as with MWM Studios.
“A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood” stars Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, who is interviewed on the set of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” by a jaded Esquire feature writer (Matthew Rhys). Based on a profile piece by Tom Junod, the film is directed by Marielle Heller from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster,
“21 Bridges” follows seasoned NYPD detective Andre Davis (Boseman) as he puts all of New York on lockdown in order to find two suspected cop killers (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch.) Sienna Miller, Keith David, and J. K. Simmons also star in the film, which is directed by Brian Kirk from a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Adam Mervis.