Disney's runaway family hit Frozen continues to thaw hearts more than a month into its run, edging past The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Friday to take the No. 1 spot at the crowded holiday box office.
Frozen took in $10.3 million for an expected three-day weekend north of $28 million -- the second best showing of all time for a film in its sixth weekend after Avatar ($34.9 million) and besting current record-holder Titanic ($25.2 million).
The animated tentpole has now earned a dazzling $229.8 million in North America, pointing to the immense staying power a family film can enjoy. It also underscores a dearth of family product (Walking With Dinosaurs was the only new family offering of the Christmas season, but it quickly became extinct).
Warner Bros.' Desolation of Smaug, earning $10.1 million on Friday, is tipped to win the weekend overall with $30 million, although the race could stay close with Frozen. Smaug, crossing the $500 million mark worldwide on Thursday, has earned a total of $170.6 million domestically.
Staying firmly at No. 3 is Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman: The Legend Continues. The Paramount pic grossed $7.1 on Friday for a projected weekend in the $21 million range. By Sunday, the sequel will have all but eclipsed the $85 million earned by the first film.
The three all-audience films continue to beat out a crowded crop of Christmas offerings vying for adults and awards attention. Martin Scorsese's R-rated, sex-laced The Wolf of Wall Street, one of six films opening nationwide on Dec. 25, is finding itself in a close race with David O. Russell's holdover American Hustle, now in is second weekend of nationwide play.
American Hustle narrowly beat Wolf of Wall Street ($6.4 million versus $6.3 million) on Friday. The two films, coming in No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, should remain neck and neck throughout the weekend, with American Hustle being given a slight edge with a projected $20 million to $21 million weekend. That would put the film's domestic total at $60 million-plus through its second weekend.
Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Wall Street bad boy Jordan Belfort, is now projected to gross $19 million to $20 million for the weekend, pushing its five-day debut to a respectable $34 million-plus.
Paramount is releasing and marketing Wolf of Wall Street, which barely received an R rating (Scorsese agreed to trim certain sex scenes in order to avoid getting slapped with an NC-17). The big question is whether the movie, expected to do especially well on both coasts, will play in America's heartland (the film's C CinemaScore could be an indication of the split). Boasting a running time of two hours and 59 minutes, Wolf marks Scorsese's longest film by a minute, topping Casino.
Among other award contenders, 20th Century Fox's Christmas Day entry The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, is likewise finding itself in a close race with Disney's holdover Saving Mr. Banks. Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, Banks appears to be narrowly winning out, grossing $4.7 million on Friday, compared to $4.5 million for Mitty. The pair of films came in No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.
Saving Mr. Banks is poised to gross north of $28 million in its second weekend of nationwide play, pushing its domestic total to just north of $38 million. Mitty, costing $91 million to make, is projected to take in $13.5 million for a respectable five-day debut of $26 million (Christmas films don't generally sport huge openings, but instead enjoy unusually strong multiples).
Universal's ill-fated 47 Ronin continued to struggle on Friday, coming in No 8 with $3.4 million. The Keanu Reeves samurai epic, which is likely to lose $175 million for Universal and co-financing partner Elliott, may only earn $10 million for the weekend for a five-day debut of $21 million, far from enough considering its price.
Universal has known the film was troubled financially for quite some time and says it has already accounted for a potential loss. "Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment. In the case of 47 Ronin, we adjusted film costs in previous quarters and as a result our financial performance will not be negatively impacted this quarter by its theatrical performance," the studio said in a statement.
Warner Bros.' $40 million Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro comedy is also struggling. The film took in $2.4 million Friday to place No. 10 and may not reach $14 million in its five-day debut.
Justin Bieber's new concert documentary Believe slipped even further down the box office chart on Thursday, taking in an estimated $775,000 to come in No. 14 and putting its five-day debut at a projected $4.5 million -- a fraction of the $29.5 million debut of his last film, Never Say Never. It's true that Believe is playing in far fewer theaters that Never Say Never (1,037 versus 3,000), but is still vastly underperforming.