According to the IMDB, Walt Disney Studio’s new animated hit “Frozen” pulled in $67 million from Friday to Sunday over Thanksgiving weekend, with a total five-day haul of $93 million. Although this impressive three-day mark surpassed the previous Thanksgiving box-office record of $57 million set by “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone” in 2001, “Frozen” was unable to claim the top spot at the box office as it opened against the massive “Hunger Games” juggernaut. Despite bringing in nearly $100 million combined over its first two weeks, “Frozen” finished second to the Continuing Adventures of Katniss and Peeta both times, before coming out on top during the third week for both films.

The fact that a Disney animated feature is enjoying box office success hardly qualifies as news. What is of interest is that the success of “Frozen” has simply been so incredibly massive. The most optimistic box-office projections estimated “Frozen” to bring in a five-day total of $65 million, similar to the performance of Disney’s “Tangled” which released on Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. To suggest that the wintry adventures of Anna and Elsa are surpassing industry projections would be an understatement.

The $67 million opening weekend for "Frozen" was the largest for a Disney animated feature since "The Lion King" in 1994.

The $67 million opening weekend for “Frozen” was the largest for a Disney animated feature since “The Lion King” in 1994.

To suggest that all Disney animated features are massive blockbuster hits would also be incorrect. This may come as a surprise, but Disney has released its fair share of box-office duds. Buzzfeed points out that the massively huge opening weekend for “Frozen” provided Disney with its largest since “The Lion King” opened with $42 million in the summer of 1994—over nineteen years ago. Buzzfeed accompanied its story with a list of all of the opening weekend box office for Disney animated features since 1989, adjusted for inflation. This list provides a clear impression in just how impressive the performance of “Frozen” is compared to the poor showing of other Disney animated features, as even modern-day classics such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” struggled to top a $20 million opening weekend in present-day box office dollars.

November is a premiere time for studios to release family films, with the beginning of the holiday season bringing increased school off- days and desperate parents looking to fill this out-of-school time. A strong showing in November coupled with favorable reviews and word-of-mouth endorsements between families could drive sustained box office for a family film through the Christmas season. To get a further example of just how truly impressive the performance of “Frozen” has been, let’s consider the film’s box office with other recent animated features by all studios released in November. Here is a chart comparing “Frozen” with the unadjusted opening weekend box office for the ten most recent November-released animated features:

Film Name Year Studio Opening Weekend Box Office (millions) Eventual Box Office Gross (millions)
Frozen 2013 Disney Animation



Wreck-It Ralph 2012 Disney Animation



Rise of the Guardians 2012 Dreamworks Animation



Tangled 2010 Disney Animation



Megamind 2010 Dreamworks Animation



Bolt 2008 Disney Animation



Bee Movie 2007 Dreamworks Animation



Flushed Away 2006 Dreamworks Animation



The Incredibles 2004 Pixar



Monsters, Inc. 2001 Pixar



A Bug’s Life 1998 Pixar



“Frozen” hasn’t just (along with “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) broken the Thanksgiving weekend box office record, it has also provided Disney Animation Studios with its largest opening weekend in two decades and has been one of the top-performing November-released animated features of the past fifteen years. It is an undeniable smash success.

The question is just how far can this film go? The box office performance of “Frozen” over the past two weekends—a $26 million take followed by $31 million—indicates that the film has staying power and might be playing at a theater near you well past Christmas. If so, what is a realistic projection of the final gross domestic box office take for “Frozen?” A closer examination of the films listed above determines that roughly 25% of the eventual final box-office take was delivered in the film’s opening weekend. Applying that mark to the $67 opening-weekend performance of “Frozen” results in an estimated gross domestic box office upwards of $260 million. If “Frozen” reaches this mark, it would be the highest-grossing animated film since 2009’s “Up” (which earned just shy of $300 million) and would be the highest-grossing Disney animated film since “The Lion King” topped $420 million in 1994.

“Frozen” is a massive success that has been decades in the making for Disney Animation Studios. We will soon see if the success of this film helps sway Academy Award voters to break Pixar’s run of Oscar dominance and provide Disney Animation with its first Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.