'Smaug' Thaws 'Frozen' at Box Office

Walt Disney Pictures

As wintry weather swept the nation over the weekend, The Hobbit sequel The Desolation of Smaug heated up the box office with a strong opening that easily surpassed prior box-office king Frozen.

The fantasy adventure film raked in an estimated $73.7 million domestic in its opening, easily toppling last week's No. 1, animated family film Frozen (2nd), which piled up $22.2 million in its second weekend to increase its domestic total to $164.4 million.

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Finishing in third was the holiday-themed Tyler Perry film Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, which generated $16 million in its opening, the smallest start for one of Perry's Madea films.

On a weekend when inclement weather kept many indoors and away from theaters, the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire (4th) continued its hot run at the box office.

With another $13.2 million this weekend, the adventure film pushed its gross domestic total to a whopping $357 million. Catching Fire—starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Elizabeth Banks—has now stacked up $792.9 million worldwide over four weekends of release.

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The box office dropped off sharply from the No. 4 spot, cumulatively falling short of Catching Fire's weekend earnings.

Fellow sequel Thor: The Dark World (5th: $2.7 million, $198.1 million) trailed behind in fifth for its sixth weekend in wide release.

The Christian Bale crime thriller Out of the Furnace (6th: $2.3 million, $9.5 million) continued its mediocre run with $2.3 million for its second weekend, and another mildly successful film, the Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man (7th: $1.9 million, $28 million) followed on its heels.

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The dramas Philomena (8th: $1.8 million, $11 million) and The Book Thief (9th: $1.7 million, $14.9 million) stayed at the lower end of the box office despite generally positive critical reviews.

(10th: $1.6 million, $18.4 million) dropped four spots due to falling 52.3 percent between its second and third weekends, partially a byproduct of dropping its screenings in nearly 500 theaters (around one-fifth of its total).