Weekend Box Office: Force of ‘Hobbit’

There was never any question as to which movie would finish the weekend in the top box office spot. Peter’s Jackson’s return to Middle Earth was sure to be the clear winner. However, no one expected Tyler Perry’s latest to score his worst opening yet. Are Perry’s fans finally over Madea?

The second film in ‘The Hobbit’ series, ‘The Desolation of Smaug‘, finished in first place with a more-than $50 million lead over its closest competitor. From 3,903 locations, ‘Smaug’ brought in $73.6 million. While that total is down $11 million from last year’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘, it still marks the fourth-highest December debut of all time – behind the first ‘Hobbit’, ‘I Am Legend‘ and ‘Avatar‘. $9.1 million of the weekend’s total came from IMAX showings and $8.8 million came from Thursday midnight screenings. Overseas, ‘Smaug’ earned $131.2 million over the weekend, and those numbers are expected to stay strong as it expands into new markets.

Tyler Perry couldn’t lock in the #2 spot. Instead, that went to Disney’s ‘Frozen‘ in its third weekend of wide release. With only a 30% drop-off, the family-friendly flick earned another $22.1 million, bringing its domestic to-date total to $164.3 million, and its overseas total to $101.6 million. Meanwhile, ‘A Madea Christmas‘ debuted with a soft $16 million. To give this some perspective, the last ‘Madea’ title opened 18 months ago to $25.4 million. Because they’re not screened in my region, I’ve never seen a ‘Madea’ film, but it appears that even the previous fans are ready to put the franchise and character to rest.

With its thunder stolen by ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Hunger Game: Catching Fire‘ fell nearly 50% in attendance, earning $13.1 million in its fourth weekend. To date, the film has grossed $356.9 million domestically. While this domestic total is still currently below that of the first ‘Hunger Games‘, the sequel has surpassed the original’s worldwide gross of $691.2 million. ‘Catching Fire’ currently sits at $729.8 million.

The titles ranked fifth through tenth at the box office each finished the weekend within $1.1 million of one another.

From just six locations, David O. Russell’s con-artist caper ‘American Hustle‘ opened to a huge $690,000, for a $115,000 per-screen average. I’m curious to see how well the movie performs when it expands to an estimated 2,500 screens this weekend.

Disney’s live-action Oscar hopeful ‘Saving Mr. Banks‘ was also given a limited release prior to its wide expansion, but didn’t do nearly as well as ‘American Hustle’. From 15 screens, ‘Mr. Banks’ brought in $421,000, equaling a per-screen average of $28,067.

The numbers for Paul Walker’s ‘Hours‘ have yet to be announced.

Top 10:

1. ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (Warner Bros.) – $73,675,000

2. ‘Frozen’ (Buena Vista) – $22,184,000

3. ‘Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas’ (Lionsgate) – $16,000,000

4. ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ (Lionsgate) – $13,150,000

5. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (Buena Vista) – $2,700,000

6. ‘Out of the Furnace’ (Relativity) – $2,320,000

7. ‘Delivery Man’ (Buena Vista) – $1,872,000

8. ‘Philomena’ (Weinstein) – $1,756,000

9. ‘The Book Thief’ (Fox) – $1,675,000

10. ‘Homefront’ (Open Road) – $1,637,000

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