The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen To Duke it Out For Box Office Title

frozenThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire

and Frozen will once again compete for the #1 spot at the domestic box office this weekend as high-profile releases give a wide berth to next week's hugely-anticipated release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Each of last week's top two movies are expected to generate around $30 million this weekend--that's a fair dropoff from last week, but then again they both had five-day weekends, so presumably they caught a lot of eyeballs. And of course this is the third weekend, not the second, for Catching Fire.

Out of the Furnace, which stars The Dark Knight's Christian Bale and Guardians of the Galaxy's Zoe Saldana, is expected to generate $6 million and take the #3 spot, with Thor: The Dark World not far behind, bringing in $4 million or so for the #4 spot at the box office. That movie just crossed the $600 million mark at the worldwide box office--something Catching Fire should do today or early tomorrow.

Those numbers all come from Deadline estimates, which are a bit more conservative than those over at Box Office Mojo. BOM have the same top four, in the same order, but everybody making a touch more money and Frozen winning the weekend fairly easily, rather than the dead heat predicted over at Deadline.

Box Office Mojo expects just over $35 million for Frozen and just under $32 million for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, with Out of the Furnace bringing home $7 million and about $4.5 for Thor: The Dark World.

Its first two weeks in release, Catching Fire outpaced Iron Man 3 domestically--a feat which, if it keeps up, would make the Jennifer Lawrence-starrer the top movie of the year at the U.S. box office. Those numbers may have looked artificially good last week because of the massive holiday weekend haul, though, and it's difficult to say whether it will even keep pace with Iron Man 3 this week--it will be close. Whether it can become the top-grossing film of the year likely depends primarily on how well some of the big holiday releases perform and how many screens exhibitors are willing to give the movie after its first three weeks in release. Coming from a relatively smaller studio may work against them in that regard; Disney can usually strong-arm exhibitors into longer release windows for their higher-priority films.