Studios took a breather between the Thanksgiving and Christmas film rush, leaving ice and fire to duke it out at the box office.
Frozen, Disney's animated holiday story, edged The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the holdover films left the weekend's only newcomer, the crime drama Out of the Furnace, out in the cold.
Frozen collected $31.6 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. The picture has made $134.3 million overall.
Fire, meanwhile, dropped from the top spot at theaters for the first time since its Nov. 22 release, making $27 million. The sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence has grossed $336.7 million.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally Hollywood's slowest of the year, and Christian Bale's Furnace marked the only major release of the weekend. Furnace mustered $5.7 million, good for third place. Analysts expected at least $7 million.
Despite the lack of competition, critics and fans were unimpressed by Furnace, which also stars Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck. The film scored just 51% on the Rotten Tomatoes critics' site, while fans gave it a collective C-plus, according to pollsters CinemaScore.
The weak start likely means Furnace will find video shelves soon, particularly considering the glut of films arriving for the holidays. At least 10 big-studio films arrive by Christmas, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec. 13), Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Dec. 18) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25).
Those films, says Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers, will determine whether 2013 is a record-breaker.
"Box office is neck-and-neck with 2012," he says, noting that the upcoming slate means "it's likely that 2013 comes awfully close to matching 2012's record $10.84 billion" in domestic box office for the year.
The comic-book adaptation Thor: The Dark World took fourth place with $4.7 million, followed by the Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man with $3.8 million. Final figures are due Monday.