WINNER OF THE WEEK: Estrogen. Female-driven movies sold nearly $60 million worth of tickets this weekend. The princesses of Frozen snowballed past the gladiators of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, ending the latter's two-week chart reign, but both movies did ridiculously well, with Frozen grabbing an estimated $31.6 million and Catching Fire an estimated $27.0 million. After two weekends in wide release, that amounts to $134.3 million for Frozen, while three-week-old Catching Fire boasts a total of $336.7 million so far.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Testosterone. The weekend after Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a dead spot for new releases, but someone has to be the sacrificial lamb, and this year, it was Out of the Furnace, the small-town revenge thriller starring Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson. It did okay, opening in third place with an estimated $5.3 million. That's about in the middle of the wide range of predictions for the film (from $4 to $7 million), but it's not that great for a movie with this kind of star power and some modest awards-season buzz. Weak word-of-mouth (measured by a C+ grade from CinemaScore) didn't help, nor did the fact that the similar Homefront opened just last week (it's still hanging in there, in sixth place, with an estimated $3.4 million.) Plus, Bale fans know that American Hustle is the Bale film to see this month, so maybe they're holding out until that opens next weekend.
Add the meager takes for Thor: The Dark World (in fourth place, with an estimated $4.7 million in its fifth weekend) and Delivery Man (at Number Five with an estimated $3.8 million after three weeks), and you might even get the sense that macho movies are not what's driving the market at the multiplex these days.
'INSIDE' STORY: The Coen brothers' much-touted Inside Llewyn Davis opened on just four screens this weekend, but it grossed an astounding $100,250 on each of them, for an estimated total of $401,000. Not that anyone's predicting blockbuster numbers for the folk-singer film when it opens wide (while critics adore it, it's hardly the kind of crowd-pleaser that the Coens' last film, True Grit, was), but a per-screen average that huge is a great start.
The suddenly and sadly timely biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is also playing on four screens; in its second week, it earned an estimated $77,700, or $19,425 per screen. That's still a strong per-venue average; every other movie currently playing earned less than $10,000 per screen this weekend.
Some awards hopefuls are still expanding into wider release, including The Book Thief (Number Seven this week, with an estimated $2.7 million) and Dallas Buyers Club (cracking the top 10 this week in tenth place with an estimated $1.5 million). Then there's Lee Daniels' The Butler, which has been playing since August but added 936 screens this weekend (up from 71 last week) in hopes of sweeping up some awards-season cash. The ploy failed, and the film earned just an estimated $260,000, or a measly $258 per theater. Guess The Butler will just have to settle for being a $115.9 million smash.