Weekend Box Office: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Stays Well Ahead of New Christmas Offerings

     December 23, 2012

hobbit-unexpected-journey-movie-image-martin-freeman-slice-01After coasting on holdovers for weeks, Hollywood studios have unleashed a feast of new features: just in time for Christmas. Even with all the competition, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had no trouble staying in first place with an estimated $36.7 million. Jack Reacher placed second, but with less than half The Hobbit’s total. And with Les Miserables and Django Unchained on deck for Christmas Day, it looks like more than one new title will have a hard time distinguishing itself from the holiday crowd.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Hobbit $36,705,000 $149.8
2.  Jack Reacher $15,600,000 $15.6
3.  This is 40 $12,030,000 $12
4.  Rise of the Guardians $5,900,000 $79.6
5.  Lincoln $5,633,000 $116.7
6.  The Guilt Trip $5,390,000 $7.4
7.  Monsters, Inc. 3D $5,040,000 $6.5
8.  Skyfall $4,700,000 $279.9
9.  Life of Pi $3,800,000 $76.1
10.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 $2,600,000 $281.6

jack-reacher-posterAs we told you yesterday, normal box office rules do not always apply during Christmas. With kids out of school and many adults on vacation, a small opening weekend is not necessarily the hallmark of a dud. During any other month, a film is doing well if it can gross over three times its opening weekend: otherwise known as a 3X multiple. Come Christmas, however, a movie can wind up with a multiple of 5X, 6X or, in the case of Avatar or last season’s We Bought a Zoo, even 10X its opening weekend.

Even with all the buildup, it’s safe to say that the weekend’s top film will not wind up with an Avatar-sized multiple. On its second Friday, The Hobbit fell an alarming 73% and, even after recovering a bit on Saturday, wound up down an estimated 57% from its record-setting December debut a week ago. Worldwide, Part One of the Hobbit trilogy has earned over $300 million – though it is already feeling the pressure in some countries from the early release of Les Miserables.

At this time last year, the undisputed king of Christmas was Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Paramount Studios chose a platformed release for their action sequel, and ended up reaping the benefit of an unheralded $209 million gross by the end of its domestic run. One year later, Paramount skipped the staggered release and sent Cruise’s new action pic, Jack Reacher, straight into 3,352 theatres. It’s clear that they didn’t want to compete with The Hobbit last weekend, but a successful platform debut, driven by fans of Lee Child’s Reacher books, could have helped a broader audience discover this potential tentpole. It’s certainly too early to say how Jack Reacher will play through the holidays but, considering that projections were in the $20-$30 million range just weeks ago, there is no way that $15.6 million feels like anything but a bummer.

this-is-40-posterThings are not quite as disappointing for the weekend’s number three release, This is 40. Universal expected its R-rated comedy to open in the mid-teens so, by that measure, no one can call it a disappointment. The fourth film from director Judd Apatow, This is 40 has a fairly rotten 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, the film has the advantage of being an adult comedy at a time of year typically dominated by kid’s fare or weighty “For Your Consideration” titles so, there’s still a chance that This is 40 will find its legs.

Long-distance options are less certain for the week’s other new “comedy,” The Guilt Trip. After opening on Wednesday with a reported $1 million, the film that pairs Apatow-alum Seth Rogen with Barbara Streisand has earned just $7.4 million in total. That might not bode so poorly if the film hadn’t been received so poorly (39% on Rotten Tomatoes) or if it had cost less to make ($40 million). As it is, with only one day to go before Les Miserables and Django Unchained join the party, the best The Guilt Trip can hope for is to haunt the bottom of the top ten long enough to clear $20 million.


We’ll have an update on the Christmas box office on Wednesday.

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