Box Office Guru Wrapup: Hobbit Tops Anchorman in Sequel Showdown

by Gitesh Pandya | Sunday, Dec. 22 2013

Plenty of new faces popped up in the North American top ten but the Middle Earth tentpole The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug remained at number one with an estimated $31.5M falling a reasonable 57% in its second round. After ten-plus days, the Warner Bros. release has amassed $127.5M which is off 15% from the $150.1M that last year's An Unexpected Journey grossed over the exact same period. That film dropped by a similar 56% in its second weekend. Hobbit collected a massive $96M overseas this weekend pushing the international haul to $276.3M and the global gross to a potent $403.8M with much more to come over the holiday weeks ahead.

Opening in second place was the comedy sequel Anchorman 2 with an estimated $26.8M weekend and $40M since its debut on Tuesday night. The Paramount release averaged $7,635 from 3,507 locations and had a Friday-to-Sunday take that was just below the $28.4M of its 2004 predecessor. The midweek launch diluted down the weekend numbers, however ticket prices were much lower nine years ago.

With only a $50M budget, the new installment of the Will Ferrell franchise should have no problem turning a profit from its worldwide run. The audience this weekend was much more male (62%) and 56% over 25. Reviews were generally good (considering it is a comedy sequel) but the B CinemaScore grade indicates that paying fans were only moderately satisfied. Oscar hopeful American Hustle may have put a little dent into sales with its expansion as it also played to adults looking for a laugh, and had more cross-gender appeal too. But with the holidays coming up soon when everyday from Christmas to New Years behaves like a Saturday at the turnstiles, Anchorman still has plenty of potential ahead.

Disney's animated blockbuster Frozen slipped only 15% in its fourth weekend of wide release to an estimated $19.2M bumping the cume up to a stellar $191.6M. Elsa and Anna may crack $200M on Christmas Day. The global gross has climbed up to $344.2M thanks to more overseas traction led by Europe.

The all-star package American Hustle followed its sizzling platform debut with a solid nationwide expansion coming in an inch behind at number four with an estimated $19.1M from 2,507 theaters. The Sony awards player starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner averaged a commendable $7,619 per site. Reviews from critics have been sensational, but paying audiences were a little less impressed giving it a B+ grade from CinemaScore. Adult moviegoers are expected to keep coming out over the holidays for Hustle which has earned seven Golden Globe nominations. Total with the limited run is $20.2M.

Disney's own awards hopeful Saving Mr. Banks went national after a week in limited play and saw results that were respectable but not amazing. The Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson pic grossed an estimated $9.3M from 2,110 sites for a mediocre $4,418 average. It is not the most urgently awaited film so the PG-13 pic will attempt to draw its audience over time over the holidays banking on word-of-mouth to make the buzz spread. Cume is $9.9M and the A CinemaScore bodes well for its future. Skewing much older, 61% of the crowd was 35 or older while 57% was female.

Off 36% was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an estimated $8.8M raising the total to $371.7M. Fellow Lionsgate title A Madea Christmas dropped 47% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $8.5M for $28.3M to date.

The animated film Walking with Dinosaurs got off to a soft start debuting to an estimated $7.3M from 3,231 theaters for a weak $2,259 average. The PG-rated adventure faced stiff competition from the still-strong Frozen but will aim to reach its target audience of families slowly over the next two weeks when children will be out of school most of the time.

Generating the biggest opening weekend ever for a Bollywood film in North America, the action sequel Dhoom 3 took ninth place with an estimated $3.3M from 236 locations for a $14,004 average for Yash Raj Films. Rounding out the top ten was Thor: The Dark World with an estimated $1.3M, down 53%, for a $200.8M cume thus far. Worldwide tally is now $627.1M for Disney and its Marvel unit.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $135M which was up 39% from last year when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey stayed at number one with $36.9M; and up 12% from 2011 when Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol debuted wide in the top spot with $29.6M.

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