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MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT -- THANKSGIVING TIME -- 11/25/13


 
“Frozen” –

“Frozen” –

 Black Nativity - Angela Bassett“”

“Black Nativity - Angela Bassett”–

Homefront - Jason Statham

"Homefront - Jason Statham"–

Thanksgiving time: Moviegoing's become such a big part of celebrating the long Thanksgiving weekend that in all likelihood most people reading today's column will see a film some time between Wednesday and Sunday.

Three wide releases will hit the multiplexes Wednesday to compete for moviegoers' time and money – along with the second weekend of Lionsgate's sizzling hot "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which just opened to $161.1 million, the biggest November opening ever. As with all good holiday buffets, there will be something for everyone to choose from.

Hollywood's particularly thankful for Thanksgiving since boxoffice grosses for the long holiday weekend are typically huge. Helping to drive those numbers is the fact that for many people the multiplex is now the next stop on the railroad after they've devoured their turkey and pumpkin pie.

Last year all films in the Thanksgiving marketplace took in $290.8 million, making it the biggest Turkey weekend ever. The next biggest Thanksgiving weekends were in 2009 ($273 million), 2010 ($264 million), 2000 ($244.4 million) and $2008 ($234 million).

Families are Hollywood's best target audience over Thanksgiving since parents need to find something to do with their kids to fill at least one of those five afternoons. This year's solution to the challenge is Walt Disney Pictures' PG rated animated action adventure “Frozen,” opening at about 3,600 theatres. It's directed by Chris Buck (“Surf's Up”) & Jennifer Lee (co-writer of “Wreck-It Ralph”).

"Frozen's" tracking best with under-25 females and next best with over-25 women. That's a good indication that moms will be bringing kids to see it. It's also tracking nicely with men, which suggests that husbands and boyfriends won't resist being dragged along.

The Story: Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), team up for an epic adventure with Olaf the Snowman (Josh Gad) to find Anna's sister, the Snow Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), who's put the Kingdom in a state of eternal winter.

The male action crowd has Thanksgiving covered with the R rated thriller “Homefront fro”m Open Road Films, Endgame Entertainment and Millennium Films. Directed by Gary Fleder (“Kiss the Girls”), it arrives at about 2,500 theatres. Starring are James Franco, Jason Statham and Winona Ryder. It's tracking best with 25-plus males.

The Story: Former DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) relocates to a quiet small town with his young daughter to escape his troubled past. But things turn out to be far from quiet when Broker and a local drug lord cross paths.

Fox Searchlight's adult appeal Christmas-theme PG rated musical drama “Black Nativity” is directed by Kasi Lemmons (“Talk to Me”) and kicks off at about 1,500 theatres. Starring are Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset and Jennifer Hudson. It's tracking best with 25-plus males.

The Story: This contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes' stage play follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother (Hudson), as he travels to New York to spend Christmas with estranged relatives (Whitaker and Bassett). Unwilling to live by their rules, Langston decides to return home to his mom. On his inspirational journey, which includes some divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing and family.

Three new less wide releases will also be competing for Turkey weekend ticket sales. FilmDistrict's R rated action drama “Oldboy,” opening at about 500 theatres, is directed by Spike Lee (“Red Hook Summer”). Starring are Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Story: An advertising executive (Brolin), who's been kidnapped off the street and held for 20 years in solitary confinement in a hotel room, is unexpectedly released. But when he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who ruined his life, he finds he's still trapped in a web of conspiracy.

20th Century Fox's PG-13 war drama “The Book Thief,” opening at about 1,000 theatres, is directed by Brian Percival, who's best known for directing a half-dozen episodes of “Downton Abbey.” Starring are Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

The Story: Based on the bestselling novel by Markus Zusak about a courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she's sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.

The Weinstein Company's PG-13 drama “Philomena,” directed by Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) will expand to about 500 theatres. Starring are Judi Dench, Steve Coogan and Sophie Kennedy Clark. "Philomena" opened last weekend to nearly $134,000 at 4 theatres, an encouraging $33,429 per theatre.

The Story: Philomena (Dench) is searching for the son she was forced by nuns to give up 50 years earlier (and also made to live in their convent) because she was a pregnant and unmarried teenager. Coogan plays a journalist drawn to Philomena's search for her long lost child.

Bottom line: Millions of people will finish Thanksgiving dinner with popcorn at the movies.