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‘Frozen,’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Soundtracks Heat Up Winter Charts

Boosted by big Christmas box-office numbers and the onset of awards season, soundtracks are surging up the charts.

Boosted by big Christmas box-office numbers and the onset of awards season, soundtracks are surging up the charts. Leading the way is Disney’s “Frozen,” which hits No. 1 on the Billboard 200, rising from No. 4. The animated film’s soundtrack, released on Walt Disney Records, sold 165,000 copies in the week ending Jan. 5 — its biggest sales frame yet — adding to total sales of 503,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The soundtrack’s success is echoing that of the film, which is No. 1 at the U.S. box office and has grossed $300 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

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“We’re thrilled — that record is going to continue to sell through Easter,” Disney Music Group president Ken Bunt says of the soundtrack. “We have some unique windows with the holidays, the gift-card season, the awards season and the DVD home window.”

A year ago, the soundtracks to “Les Misérables” and “Pitch Perfect” enjoyed post-Christmas ascents for different reasons. “Les Miz” was a high-profile holiday release pegged to awards season, and climbed 33-2-1 on the Billboard 200 during the last three weeks of 2012. “Pitch Perfect,” meanwhile, caught on as a DVD, helping the soundtrack — which featured Anna Kendrick’s hit “Cups (Pitch Perfect’s When I’m Gone)” — ascend 45-10-7.

This year, soundtracks for Academy Award contenders are starting to see chart movement as awards buzz grows. The Nonesuch soundtrack to Joel & Ethan Coen’s folk fable “Inside Llewyn Davis” made big gains, hitting No. 23 on the Billboard 200 after rising 136-94-48 during the prior three weeks. And Sony Legacy’s “American Hustle” jumps to No. 73 from last week’s debut at No. 188, with sales of 5,000.

Meanwhile, Republic’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” shoots to No. 30 after bowing last week at No. 123. And two more high-profile soundtracks were released Jan. 7: “One Chance: True Story of Paul Potts,” which features a new song from Taylor Swift, and the blues-oriented “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

With Disney hoping that “Frozen” continues to thaw through the spring, Bunt says soundtracks will be even bigger business this year: “You’re going to see soundtracks at higher price points. They’re going to be a real business in 2014.”

  • This article first appeared in Billboard magazine. Click here to buy the issue.