Weekend Box Office: THE HOBBIT 2 Back on Top on 2013’s Final Weekend

     December 29, 2013


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug pulled off a narrow victory over Disney’s Frozen on 2013’s final frame, making it just the second title of the year to spend three weeks on top of the domestic box office.  Smaug now equals the Christmas run (by ranking at least) of An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit trilogy.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Hobbit 2 $29,850,000 $190.3
2.  Frozen $28,845,000 $248.3
3.  Anchorman 2 $20,150,000 $83.6
4.  American Hustle $19,550,000 $60
5.  The Wolf of Wall Street $18,510,000 $34.3
6.  Saving Mr. Banks $14,020,000 $37.8
7.  Secret Life of Walter Mitty $13,000,000 $25.5
8.  Catching Fire $10,200,000 $391.1
9.  47 Ronin $9,870,000 $20.5
10.  A Madea Christmas $7,400,000 $43.7

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-posterBox office pundits have been hard on The Hobbit 2 – “trails its predecessor” is the phrase that was used most often.  And while its true that Smaug has not caught up to the grosses of Journey, the fact that it managed to stay at number one for three straight weekends is an achievement of note.  The only other movie to three-peat in 2013 was Gravity, though Lee Daniels’ The Butler came close over the four-day Labor Day period.  The Hobbit 2 should hit the a worldwide total of $500 million after this weekend’s international updates come in.

By virtue of rank, The Hobbit takes pride of place this weekend; but a bigger story sits in second place.  Frozen, Disney’s Thanksgiving hit, surprised many by overtaking Smaug (and a ton of new releases) on Friday.  There was even a chance that the animated film would win the weekend and, as you can see, it did come achingly close.  Frozen was up over 46% from last weekend, a remarkable hold for a film in its second weekend, let alone its sixth. Today’s estimate gives Frozen the second-best sixth weekend in box office history (between Avatar and Titanic) and its domestic total makes it 2013’s seventh biggest title… for now.  At this rate, Frozen could make it to the top five by the end of the year.

Standing in the shadow of the holiday’s blockbuster holdovers (including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which made it back into the top ten after dropping out last weekend) were a ton of new releases.  Too many, as it turns out.  Only The Wolf of Wall Street distinguished itself – though it, too, opened in the shadow of one holdover in particular.

the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-poster-mountainThe fifth pairing of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio opened to $9.1 million on Christmas Day (Django Unchained earned $15 million on the same day last year) for a total of $34.3 million in five days.  That’s only a bit lower than projected, though I’m sure Paramount was hoping word of mouth would bring adult audiences out in bigger numbers.  Too bad those audiences seemed more taken with American Hustle.  The David O. Russell comedy took in an estimated $19.5 million, up 2.3% from one week ago.

If The Wolf of Wall Street was supposed to be this Christmas’s Django Unchained, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was hoping to be this year’s Les Miserables.  The big-budget musical earned $27.2 million on 2012’s post-Christmas frame, a number the Ben Stiller comedy couldn’t hit after a full five days. To be fair, Fox was only expecting about $19 million from Mitty’s first weekend.  Still, the fact that it made just $13 million will be hard to spin.  One factor working against Walter Mitty was the legend of Ron Burgundy.  After a slower than expected start last weekend, Anchorman 2 found its footing over Christmas, claiming a total of $83.6 million in twelve days.  By the first of the year, the comedy will have passed the $85.3 million final total of 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Of the three remaining new Christmas releases, only one made it to the top ten… and just barely.  47 Ronin, the last of 2013’s troubled, big-budget productions, was expected to struggle in this crowded marketplace.  And struggle it did.  Though the action movie started with a decent $7 million on Christmas Day, interest quickly fell away (surely, that 12% Rotten Tomato score didn’t help).  47 Ronin cost over $200 million (hence the ‘troubled’) so Universal is looking at a major write off unless international audiences go for Ronin in a big way.

grudge-match-robert-de-niro-sylvester-stalloneGrudge Match was one of the Christmas movies that missed the top ten.  Justin Bieber’s Believe, which placed fourteenth with just $2 million, was the other.  I’ll leave tearing down Bieber to the good folks at Buzz Feed, and wrap up this holiday box office report with Match.

The fact that the Sylvester Stallone, Robin DeNiro comedy has been slammed by critics (21% on Rotten Tomatoes) is beside the point.  The critically savaged Parental Guidance took in $14.5 million one year ago and went on to a domestic total of $77 million.  But that was then.  In this year’s more-competitive market, the same multi-generational audiences that made Parental Guidance a hit chose to skip Grudge Match and support better-reviewed movies like Saving Mr. Banks and Frozen instead.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

Overall, box office earnings were up 10% over 2012’s post-Christmas frame.  And with just two days to go before the new year arrives, it is clear that 2013 will go down as the highest-grossing year in box office history.  So, Happy New Year studios!


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