Well, here's something you don't see everyday: Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen was the top draw at the local multiplex over the weekend, bouncing back after coming in second during its debut the weekend before.
Let's be fair. Frozen was pitted against Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF-A) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The second installment in the blockbuster franchise had opened to a whopping $158 million a week earlier, and taking in less than half as much -- $74.2 million -- during the post-Thanksgiving weekend was enough to top Frozen's opening take of $67.4 million.
Then again, it's not as if an opening weekend take of $67.4 million for Frozen was all that shabby. It's actually the second-highest gross for a movie opening in second place.
Frozen also needed just $31.6 million to notch the top slot this past weekend, as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fell all the way to $27 million in ticket sales over the past three days. Lions Gate investors still can't be too disappointed. The post-apocalyptic action flick has rung up roughly $336.6 million in domestic box office receipts through its first 17 days on the silver screen, topping last year's $302.5 million in sales during the same span of time.
However, Lion's Gate knew it was going to have a hit on its hands. Disney had a higher hurdle to clear with its animated feature about a pair of sisters battling over a cursed summer snowstorm in Norway. Disney's features have improved since Pixar's brain trust took over, but there have been a few disappointments along the way. Frozen's taken in more in less than two weeks than Bolt or The Princess and the Frog raked in during their entire theatrical runs. Perhaps more importantly, Disney's recent non-Pixar successes -- including Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled -- hadn't even topped $100 million in ticket sales at this point.
In short, Disney has a hit, and it's going to milk it.
Disney's already cashing in by having the film's characters at its theme parks, and you can be sure that the snowy Scandinavian landscape is going to be played up at the theme parks in future holiday festivities. Along the way we'll see how Disney can exploit its characters across its many media and merchandising properties.
Disney snapped up Pixar, Marvel, and, more recently, Lucasfilm because it knows how to milk even more money out of proven franchises. Just imagine what it can do when it creates the characters from scratch.
Frozen's cool -- and that's hot.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.