NEW YORK -- On a wintry weekend, Disney's (DIS) Frozen retook the box-office top spot with $20.7 million, freezing out the horror spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.
Paramount's The Marked Ones debuted in second place with $18.2 million, a total that includes Thursday night screenings, according to studio estimates Sunday. The film is a stand-alone story spun off from the lucrative, low-budget horror franchise Paranormal Activity, the fifth of which will be released in October.
But it wasn't able to overcome Disney's animated Frozen, which has been a hit for family audiences for the last seven weeks. It has now surpassed $600 million worldwide, making it the second highest Disney Animation release, behind The Lion King. It will soon pass that film's $312 million domestic haul, too.
It's extremely rare for a film to lead the box office in its seventh weekend, a feat accomplished by the likes of Avatar and, to go further back, Legends of the Fall. It's rarer still for a film to retake the box-office lead so late in its theatrical run. The last movie to do so was Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in 2004, according to box-office tracker Rentrak.
Another hold-over, Warner Bros.' The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, came in third with $16.3 million in its fourth week of release after narrowly topping the busy Christmas weekend box office. Like Frozen, Peter Jackson's second installment of his Hobbit trilogy has benefitted from the lengthy holiday moviegoing season. Its domestic cumulative total is $229.6 million.
The snow and icy temperatures battering the Midwest and Northeast likely tempered the weekend's box-office business.
"Everyone probably suffered a little bit from the weather," said Don Harris, head of domestic distribution for Paramount. "It looked like no matter what movie it was, it was half a million to $1 million less on Friday and Saturday than you would have been expecting, just based on what the norms were."
The Marked Ones, made for just $5 million and starring a largely Hispanic cast, was the lone new wide release in the marketplace, as the large batch of late December releases looked to separate themselves from the pack.
Successes include Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street ($63.3 million in two weeks for Paramount), David O. Russell's acclaimed American Hustle ($88.7 million in four weeks for Sony (SNE)) and the Will Ferrell sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (well past $100 million domestically in three weeks for Paramount).
Having a harder time finding audiences are 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves (a $175 million bomb for Universal earning $32.6 million in two weeks), the Robert De Niro-Sylvester Stallone boxing comedy Grudge Match ($24.9 million in two weeks for Warner Bros.) and Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ($45.7 million in two weeks for 20th Century Fox).
"It's like traffic on the freeway," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak. "At this level of competition, there are always going to be casualties."
-- Written by Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer.
[Universal is owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast (CMCSA). Paramount is owned by Viacom (VIA). Warner Bros. is owned by Time Warner (TWX). 20th Century Fox is owned by News Corp. (NWSA)]