Marked Ones Frozen as Disney Starts 2014 at #1
By John Hamann
January 5, 2014
Frozen has climbed back into the number one spot at the box office, for the first time since early December. I’m starting to think it might still be there when we start 2015.
As the Christmas box office bonanza fades into the background, the top choice for moviegoers remains the same as it was a month ago, as Frozen continues to dominate the box office. The film that was number one on December 6th is the same as the one on January 5th. Considering the mammoth holiday box office that occurs between these weekends, a repeat number one for Frozen at the start of 2014 should shake box office observers to their very core.
Yes, our number one film of the weekend is Frozen, now in its sixth weekend of wide release. Over the 13 days between December 20th and January 1st, Frozen earned about $100 million, on top of the $177 million it had pulled in prior to 20th. Remarkably, Frozen continues its dominance this weekend, as it pulls another rabbit out of its hat, taking down Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. On Friday, Frozen pulled in another solid score of $6.75 million, a number very similar to its Friday, December 6th score of $6.72 million. Friday’s gross is $1.6 million more than the $5.1 million the animated film grossed on both December 13th and 20th, showing how odd – and bulletproof – Frozen has been since its wide debut on November 27th. In this era of box office, these things simply do not happen.
With the holiday season now in the rearview mirror, weekend multipliers change as moviegoer behavior changes. With Friday being a day off school for kids – whether they were snowed in or not – and Monday a school day, internal weekend multipliers (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) are lowered. Over a normal weekend, a film like Frozen would have a multiplier of 4.0 or higher, simply because kids can’t see a movie during the day on Friday, but then come out in force over Saturday and Sunday. This time around, the Friday acts more like a Saturday, and the Saturday and Sunday are softer, thus decreasing the multiplier. On Saturday, Frozen earned $8.1 million, but then the estimate has the Sunday dropping off considerably, for a weekend score of $20.7 million. That gives Frozen a 3.1 multiplier, much, much lower than the 4.7 multiplier it received on December 6th, and the reason why this weekend is lower than the $31.6 million Frozen earned over that weekend, despite having the same Friday number on both weekends.
Frozen was off 28% from its $28.6 million take last weekend, but earned more than the $19.6 million it earned the weekend previous, and almost matched the $22.6 million it earned the weekend earlier. Like Disney movies of yore, word-of-mouth has turned Frozen into a mega hit, but there are other reasons why this one is doing so well. It helped that all of the Christmas Day releases were targeted at either adults (Wolf of Wall Street, Walter Mitty) or at no one (Believe, 47 Ronin), and that Walking With Dinosaurs imploded, removing any kind of competition. The scheduling for Frozen also paid off, as Disney had no fear opening Frozen in the shadow of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire or having it compete with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Disney knew it wasn’t going to have the number one film over opening weekend, or over weekend three because of this heavy hitting competition. They still pushed their film out regardless, relying on its quality to drive word-of-mouth over the holiday season. To say the move worked is a massive understatement. Frozen is now a top ten film for Disney, as it passed Up and The Sixth Sense this weekend. It could pass The Lion King ($312.9 million) next weekend to become Disney's biggest non-Pixar animated title during first run.