As if their record-breaking Thanksgiving showing weren't enough already, the creative minds at Disney (NYSE: DIS ) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF ) are are all set for another blowout at this weekend's box office.
Last weekend Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire achieved an amazing $74.5 million gross -- in only its second weekend stateside, mind you -- shattering the 12-year-old $57.5 million Thanksgiving weekend record previously held by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
What's more, Disney's animated holiday blockbuster, Frozen, also beat Harry Potter's record, earning a solid $66.7 million in its wide domestic debut. And while that was "only" good enough for second place behind Catching Fire, keep in mind Frozen also simultaneously set a new record for the highest-ever Thanksgiving weekend launch.
As of Thursday evening, Catching Fire had already mustered over $583 million globally, which means it should have little problem this weekend exceeding the $600 million earned so far by Disney Marvel's fifth-week holdover Thor: The Dark World.
And Frozen, for its part, has already earned $117.5 million, with nearly 86% of that total coming from U.S. movie-goers as the film has yet to begin its overseas roll-out in earnest.
Why fire and ice will continue to reign
This weekend, it's safe to expect more of the same as the only new wide release comes in the form of Relativity Media's R-rated crime thriller, Out of the Furnace -- not exactly a huge threat to the target demographics for either Catching Fire or Frozen, both of which are expected to turn in between $30 million and $40 million in gross ticket sales over the next three days.
In fact, I'm not convinced Out of the Furnace will be a huge threat to anything, especially considering early weekend estimates peg its first domestic weekend haul at only the $5 million to $8 million range. That's roughly on par with Open Road Film's fellow R-rated action film, Homefront, which earned just $6.97 million last weekend.
But that's also not to say Out of the Furnace won't be a financial success; remember, the film only cost Relativity around $22 million to make, or mere peanuts compared to the $130 million and $150 million production budgets maintained by Lionsgate and Disney for Catching Fire and Frozen, respectively.
One ring to rule them all...just not yet
Meanwhile, J.R.R. Tolkien fans are starting to get giddy as Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) Warner Bros. readies the second big screen installment of their favorite book with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which will land in the U.S. next Friday.
As it stands, Smaug has some enormous shoes to fill, especially when we remember The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey earned a massive $1.02 billion (yes, with a "b") in its own theatrical run this time last year. Even so, barring the unlikely event Middle Earth aficionados abandon their fandom, I think Smaug should have no problem living up to its outperforming predecessor.
This battle doesn't end in theaters
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