Well, it’s time to kick off a whole new year of box-office coverage! And since it’s January, you know what that means — you’ll be seeing a lot of horror movies (and expanding Oscar contenders). This weekend, only one new wide release screams its way into theaters: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. If it weren’t for snowy conditions — both in real life and on screen — it would have a very clear shot at No. 1, but it will have to work hard to overcome Frozen, which has quickly evolved into a box-office behemoth. Here’s how the weekend might play out:
1. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – $19 million
The horror franchise cranked out four “found footage” films in four years, and all of them were massive successes thanks to their micro-budgets. But Paranormal Activity 4 earned a series low $53 million in October 2012 (down from PA3‘s $104 million haul), and Paramount wisely kept itself from killing its mega-profitable franchise by choosing to not release a new installment in October 2013. Instead, the studio is pushing this Latino-oriented spinoff in January in hopes of reaching the same crowd that has led demonic possession movies like The Devil Inside to huge grosses. The Marked Ones probably can’t be expected to match PA4‘ $29 million debut, but the Paranormal series has been very well-received on the whole, and it certainly has a loyal fanbase. If not for a snow storm that has much of the Northeast frozen over, The Marked Ones could score a debut in the mid-twenties. For now, though, I’m going with a $19 million debut. Not bad considering it cost Paramount just $5 million!
2. Frozen – $18.5 million
Disney’s sister tale continues its march to the $300 million mark this weekend. It’s already earned $277.1 million after five weeks in wide release, but its sixth weekend could potentially put it back on top of the chart as parents take their children to the movies for one last outing before they head back to school on Monday. Frozen may dip by about 35 percent this weekend to $18.5 million, giving it a remarkable $295 million total.
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $14.5 million
It’s maintained the pole position for the last two weekends, but Peter Jackson’s latest foray into Middle Earth has fallen prey to Frozen‘s dominance over the past week. A 50 percent drop will give Smaug just under $15 million over the weekend for a $219 million total after four weekends.
4. American Hustle – $12.5 million
David O. Russell is looking at his second $100 million hit in a row after Silver Linings Playbook. The 1970s romp may drop by about 30 percent to $12.5 million, giving it a groovy $88 million.
5. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – $12 million
Will Ferrell’s sequel has already outgrossed the original Anchorman, which topped out at $84 million, and it will fly past $100 million this weekend. Another $12 million haul will give the $40 million comedy a $110 million total.