The first weekend of December marks the halfway point in the holiday movie season and is usually pretty quiet. With only one new opening this weekend, it is a good chance to review the hits so far and look ahead.
Taking advantage of the soft spot in between blockbusters is Out of the Furnace, a drama from the acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart. Starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker and Zoë Saldana, it is the story of a blue collar worker who must take matters into his own hands when authorities will not take action in the mysterious disappearance of his brother.
Even with its impressive cast, Out of the Furnace does not pose much of a threat to last weekend’s top movies. It was all about fire and ice as Disney’s Frozen took on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and both came out winners. The Hunger Games sequel not only remained at No. 1 but it did so with gusto. It destroyed the 12-year-old U.S. Thanksgiving weekend record held by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and it also now holds the No. 4 spot for highest second weekend gross behind The Avengers, Avatar and The Dark Knight. It has already grossed $296 million in North America and is on track to beat the original’s $408 million.
However, threatening to take the spotlight away for The Hunger Games was the newest future Disney animated classic Frozen. Over the five day Thanksgiving weekend, it opened to almost $94 million, which is a record for a Thanksgiving opening. And it is not only critics singing the praises of Frozen but audiences are giving it a rare “A+” with a company called Cinemascore, which measures audience reaction to movies. That very high rating means that it will get the best marketing a movie could hope for—great word-of-mouth.
Thor: The Dark World also passed a milestone this weekend as it not only surpassed the original’s gross, but surpasses the gross of team mate Captain America: The First Avenger.
The blockbusters return starting next weekend with The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, followed on Dec. 20 by Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro re-teaming with their Silver Linings Playbook director for American Hustle.
On Christmas Day, DeNiro goes up against Sylvester Stallone in the boxing comedy Grudge Match, Keanu Reeves shows off his martial arts skills again in 47 Ronin, Ben Stiller directs and stars in the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Leonardo DiCaprio stars for Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Landmark Encore Cinemas continue their Free Holiday Films for Food on Friday at 7 p.m. with Arthur Christmas (3D). Admission is two non-perishable items.